Dear University of Tennessee Fans,
If you are reading this, it means that we lost to South Carolina and you have been praying to Zeus, 7.5lb baby Jesus, and John Currie that your phone would hurry up already and notify you that Butch Jones has finally been fired. (#VOLFANFORLIFE probably isn’t your Facebook status right now either.)
Well…to be honest, this isn’t your first time being here.
Instead of using this article unpack the players’ statistics or the now biggest spread in series history, I think it is safe to say UT fans need a therapy session.
So stay with me folks…and let’s feel some feelings. Let’s start with this image:
Firstly, I want to stress that this article is not written to belittle or downplay abusive relationships.
This cycle has been going on since 1999 and has recently reached a new peak. For example, tensions have been building since November 26th, 2016 when we lost to Vanderbilt. For almost a year (maybe more if we are being honest with ourselves), we have become more fearful of the possibility that UT might actually be a bad football team.
Regardless of how many losses or ugly wins we experience, we inevitably hold onto hope that Butch Jones could finally get that 5-star recruit, or run the ball, or just be better. And then like clockwork, our hope is met with a warm wash of disappointment and shame after briefly denouncing UT as our team and consider becoming Alabama fans for only half a second (keywords: HALF a second).
A week goes by, Peyton Manning makes an appearance at the Vol Walk, and we are back with our heads in the sand high fiving strangers in orange and white. It sure does feel good to be a Tennessee VOL during those honeymoon stages.
But just like the cycle, tensions build again as you consider not even watching the game this Saturday (we all know why and no, we don’t have to talk about it).
So, my main question for you is- What is in your control?
What things can you change to make this season more enjoyable? During times like these when hopelessness and defeat are thick in the air, it can be incredibly empowering to take charge of the situation and know that you are still in control.
4 Ways to Take Back Control:
1. Accept that it doesn’t feel like ’98.
Acceptance does NOT mean approval. No one needs to be approving of UT’s performance. Yet, next time we don’t run the ball on the one-yard line, try saying to yourself “I accept that we just made a play that I don’t agree with.” Simply accepting that 2017 feels like the opposite of 1998 will help your level of distress diminish.
2. Refocus your goal for game day to enjoy time with friends instead of winning.
Try putting more effort into creating a fun environment for your friends instead of ruminating in previous scores or the possible upcoming win/loss. Catch up with friends and step away from the game every now and then to refocus.
3. Plan something to do right after the game with friends.
Consider going to dinner, grilling out, or something out of the ordinary for your friend group. Maybe make a reservation to go bowling or play laser tag. This way you will have something to look forward to regardless of the final score.
As a really smart person once told me, “you can never lose at tailgating.” Have a solid playlist queued up, bring the cornhole boards, and get ready to have a great start to the day! Setting up a tailgate and preparing food also helps create a sense of mastery and accomplishment.
Try to stay present during the tailgate and don’t follow any anxious or worrisome thoughts; allow yourself to enjoy the moment fully.
And by all means– if it is within your control to fill up a dump truck with cash and back it up to Jon Gruden’s house, then please do that.