I'd like to think I'm an objective fan, in fact I pride myself on it. I'd like to think it was objectivity that helped me keep the many recent years of losing in perspective. I've always taken great pride in not getting too emotional over a loss, a bad play, a bad year, and always seeing the big picture while keeping an eye on the prize (The Lombardi Trophy).
I have been a 49er fan a long time. As a kid I watched a John Brodie led 49er team take a halftime lead over the great Dallas Cowboys only to fall to a Rodger Staubach led comeback which literally broke my dad's heart. My dad and I never watched another 49er game together for over 20 years, because he got this idea in his head he was bad luck for the team. So when the 49ers finally defeated those Dallas Cowboys in 1981, I watched it alone, while my younger sister, like a messenger pigeon, carried word of our fortunes from the living room to his study.
Now as all of you know, I recently stated I don't believe this team has a chance at a Super Bowl this year. In fact I stated, I don't believe we will even make it out of the divisional round, if we have to play the Packers or the Seahawks. And I felt very confident in my belief, because I've never really been prone to self delusion. In my eyes, I had simply made an emotionless analysis of our play, devoid of any fan bias, that might make me prone to seeing what I "hoped" for instead of reality.
As is the norm, this opinion was met with open hostility and arguments countering its evidence, analysis, conclusion and in some instances my motivations. And not being someone to shrink from a debate, I countered my critics attacks as if I were in a duel to the death. Attack-Counter-Riposte, Attack-Counter-Riposte and on and on we went with no quarter given and none asked for. Until one poster confronted me with an argument that didn't rely on objective analysis at all. To paraphrase him, he admitted that part of his belief in the 49ers was based simply on faith. And he justified this by saying that hope is as part of the human condition as breathing.
I foolishly and ignorantly thought to myself, ah-ha.....checkmate! I then of course, eloquently made him aware of his intellectual deficiencies before turning off my iPad to watch the weekends playoff games, and feeling real good about myself too. But as the Packer-Vikings game rolled into the 4th quarter I began dreading next weekend and the bitter disappointment defeat would bring to a season that began with such high "hopes". I even went so far as rationalizing why possibly selling my ticket might be a smart move financially.
And then it hit me, that poster was correct, I had lost all hope in the 49ers, despite my statements to the contrary. I could say that, "I hoped the 49ers win" and that was separate from what I thought of their chances intellectually. But it was clear to me, the truth was that my lack of faith was dictating what I saw in the fundamental X's and O's. It isn't that my observations about our unreliable kicking game, or our inconsistent offense, or the critical injuries we have endured lack merit. It's that those issues in and of themselves do not define the players and coaches that comprise this team.
I actually believe that heart, intensity, focus, and an indomitable will can overcome seemingly impossible odds. If you have been a 49er fan for as long as I have then you have seen it firsthand. And this team more than any other 49er team in my memory, with so many of its players dealing with years of futility, but never allowing those defeats to take root in their psyche, deserve my faith. If you agreed with my position you might think I'm turning my back on rationale thought, or perhaps I'm just giving into the popularly held view to be accommodating.
But you would be wrong and I think missing something important. I suspect that you cannot claim to be objective if you dismiss the role and power of "hope" and or "faith" in human endeavors. Here is me genuinely hoping the 49ers make it to and win the Super Bowl this year. When I walk into Candlestick this upcoming Saturday it's going to be completely committed to the cause and with complete faith in the team. To walk into that stadium which has been the scene of events that have brought me a lot of joy, with anything less than a hopeful heart and complete faith, just wouldn't be right.
And here is me hoping that I get a chance to finally convince my dad to watch a Super Bowl with the 49ers participating in it with me. That would be kinda of cool.