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Exploring the emotions of a fan and dealing with falling short of expectations

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Tennessee vs Loyola Chicago Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

One would assume that when you reach 63 years of age that 40-plus years of adulthood would lend itself to a better understanding of people, situations, why things happen. In theory, as we get older we get smarter, right?

Actually, at least in my case, I have more questions than answers, less patience than I should and probably less tolerance for people who have things completely figured. I used to be a black and white, no gray area guy. One way or another was the answer. Not so much anymore.

Enter the wide, wide world of sports. Or in this case, University of Tennessee sports. Or big time college athletics with big time money and expectations.

Sports fans are pretty much the same all over the country. Fan is short for the word fanatic. I spent most of my life in Wisconsin where Green Bay Packers’ fans start in the womb. My guess is UT fans aren’t much different. Packer season tickets are in the will or you are on a waiting list of 160,000.

Winning championships is where the bar is set. Or at least, you better win the the, conference, beat the Bears, Vikings, Lions each year and make the playoffs.

I appreciate the passion that Vols’ fans have for their teams. Fans’ emotions rise and fall with wins and losses, coaches and players. The passion for your team brings joy, anger, apathy, sadness and the “wait until next year” (until recently, insert Cubs’ fans here) mantra.

Here’s my question. Do we set the bar too high and anything less than championships means nothing? Imagine your boss expecting perfection each day. No sick days. No sick kids or relatives. No personal problems. You better win every day. No excuses for not being on top. Sounds a bit extreme, doesn’t it? Don’t ever falter or make mistakes or you are out. Or criticized day after day in every medium available.

Many Division One universities would love to taste the success that UT sports teams have had in recent years. But winning is the bottom line. Don’t lose in the second round. Win the conference. Beat the right teams. Be sure you win as many championships as the previous legendary coach.

We had a guy name Lombardi in the 60s. It took until the 90s to start to win after he left. Thirty years of nothing. Coaches were Devine, Starr, Gregg, Infante, etc. Starr was there for 9 years as the head coach. You had a lady name Summit and a guy named Manning.

The question, and I have many, is can the current coaches and players measure up? Where is the bar set? Is it realistic? Is it surprising that a coach defends his/her players with the same type of passion fans display? Does changing coaches guarantee the only thing fans want — championships?

Think about it. Getting older just leaves you with more questions I guess.