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Am I in the Twilight of my Fandom, or is it just the Off Season?

I have a confession to make, so please bear with me. These past few weeks have been a challenge to me as a San Francisco 49er fan. In fact, I haven’t been interested in any news regarding the team at all. I used to post here a lot, even hanging out for a long time waiting for meager news about David Carr, and the presser that never happened. Now, part of my dilemma stems from the NBA post season, and the upcoming US Open golf championship. As a man in his 40’s who refuses to grow up, I may have to finally face the reality of age. The last time the 49ers won a championship was 15 years ago. Since then the team has gone up and down to down and out, to now just competing for respect, and hopefully winning a Division they once owned regularly. During this time I have managed to hang onto my fandom, not jumping off or on any bandwagons. But I fear a certain reality creeping in. That reality is life, and how the 49ers fit in it.

Now of course, a lot of this probably has to do with it being the off season. Competitive sports are more interesting when teams and players actually have to compete on the field of play. Once the season actually starts, I may be back in the thick of it as as a fan. Or maybe not. I didn’t watch as many Los Angeles Laker basketball games in the regular season like I used to. I watched maybe two San Francisco Giants games so far. Living in Southern California also can make it harder for a fan of Bay Area sports, but there are a lot of fans of the 49ers (shout out to LondonNiner and everyone else in the UK and abroad) who don’t even live in California. Even though I believe the 49ers should have a fine season, I feel less inclined to being tethered to my computer to watch a stream of a game on Sundays. I don’t haunt message boards like I used to anymore. I don’t listen to Bay Area media, or read the blogs as of late. Am I standing on the edge of a cliff, looking past the years of elation and frustration? Or am I just plain bored with it all?

After the jump, I will try to not only talk myself from the edge of the cliff, but also remind myself why I spent so much of my life as a 49er fan.

This post maybe a bit disconcerting for the others that contribute to the Front Page. I don’t mean this post as any sort of disrespect to those who put in a lot of work here. I admire the energy that they have. I wish I had some of it. As a poster, I spent a lot of time and energy here in the discussions during the season. I don’t believe I left any doubt of where I stood as a fan to others here. But now, the doubt is starting within myself. I don’t feel as connected with the team like I used to. There has been so many changes over the years, and the definitive style and brand of 49er football during the Dynasty no longer exists. Change happens, and good things don’t last forever. There was nothing more challenging than suffering through the Terry Donahue and Mike Nolan eras as a fan, yet I stuck with them. I stuck with them through the inept John York years. I actually liked Candlestick Park, even during baseball season. Even though things are looking up for the 49ers with a possible new Stadium, it still is further down the road from the City they’re named after. It isn’t as far away as it is now from me in So-Cal, but it’s still change.

Before I became accustomed to the internet, I used to scour newsstands for anything 49ers related. If the New York Times had an article about a 49er game, I bought it. I had a box full of pre-season magazines, old Sporting Greens, and a host of other magazines that had a 49ers article within their pages. I bought the San Francisco Chronicle in the morning, and the Examiner in the afternoon back when I lived in the City. I had a Team KNBR bumper sticker on my workbox, called almost every talk show (I had some classic calls with Ferrall On The Bench), and had my roommate tape a Steve Young interview on a late night talk show while I had to work. I would be jawing with other hardcore 49er fans at sports bars during the Steve Vs. Joe debate, and have lunch at Kezar Field imagining watching the Million Dollar Backfield. I’ve eaten Oyster’s Rockefeller with Bob St. Clair at the Alumni Tailgate, shook hands with Tom Landry before an epic Dallas Cowboy game at the Stick, and hung out with some true 49er family. Good times. Check that. GREAT times.

Now everything I need 49er related is only one click away. I no longer jaw with other fans at the sports bar. I do it here. I no longer buy newspapers and magazines because the internet has everything and more that I need. If I miss a player interview, there is YouTube. If the game isn’t broadcasted on local television, I can stream it. Spots blogs such as this one provide even more information with great insight and analysis opposed to the other traditional outlets. But the internet is also causing some sort of disconnect as a sports fan. If my local TV station wasn’t broadcasting the game (this was before NFL Sunday Ticket), I would head over to the bar and plead my case to the bartender to switch the satellite feed here is So-Cal. Guess what? There were other 49er fans in there as well to banter about. Today, I have a stream and a game thread. Even before a Sunday game, I have already posted over one thousand words before it starts. It’s almost anti-climatic in a sense, with all of the speculation that is posted culminating in four quarters of a game to which we have no control or influence over.

Maybe I am suffering from just plain old burnout. Once again, I’m amazed at the energy of the other Front Page contributors, as well as all of the posters here who are just as important. I’ve been a fan of the 49ers for 33 years. That’s a long time. I’ve been a Laker fan even longer. Right now, the Lakers are competing for a championship against a hated rival in the Boston Celtics. That’s what has my attention now. Do the 49ers have to compete for a championship soon for me not to jump off of the cliff? Do they have to be a playoff team in order to validate all of the time and energy I have spent as a fan? Will they finally establish a new brand of 49er football with new traditions to keep me interested? Is this a lot to ask out of a football team? Does any of this really matter in the Grand Scheme of Life?

I guess all those questions will be answered after the summer. Goodbye cliff. I think I’ll stick around for another 33 years.