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The Giants are Defending Champs, Why Don’t They Play Like It?

December 24, 2012

I have never been a defending champion. In order to defend a title, one needs to win one, and in ten years of youth soccer, two years of girls softball and three years of competitive drama (you heard me, competitive drama), not once did I hoist the big trophy.

The only year my soccer team made it to States, it was by default. We were the only team in our league, and, while we fought valiantly, we eventually lost to a bigger and better team. We won a few league championships, but, if I remember correctly, those games were played by the second and third place teams (the first place team went to States), so that doesn’t really count.

I also lost two league “championship” games, both on penalty kicks–the absolute worst way to lose anything.  Imagine if the NFL decided that after the first quarter of overtime, games would be decided by a field goal kicking competition. As entertaining as that might be, it is also an extraordinarily heartbreaking and stupid way to lose.  

In softball, my team was never very good. Although, like the Giants, we would gain momentum in the playoffs. There was something about making the postseason (every team made it) that got us into a groove, and my parents would start worrying that they’re entire weekend would be lost, if we kept winning.  We never did.

I came the closest to winning a championship in the Rhode Island State Drama Festival. Technically, one year we did win, but an arithmetic error committed by the judges kept us from advancing. By the time the mistake was realized, it was too late (I am not at all bitter about this). Frankly, I should have known better. My father always taught me never to compete in anything without a finish line.  You can’t rest your hopes on the subjective and vindictive nature of an East German judge.

I’ve never known what it is like to win or defend a championship. I don’t understand the pressure of repeating or what it is like to have every other team gunning for you.  Perhaps that is why I can’t seem to understand, even though I tried to wrap my brain around it all last night and today, why the Giants play the way that they do.  I don’t understand how this team can dismantle some of the best teams in the league but can’t seem to muster the energy to play like defending champions when their season is on the line.  Maybe it’s the pressure.  Maybe it’s exhaustion or even over confidence. 

Whatever the cause, it is maddening.  The Giants have flushed this season down the drain.  They have wasted so much potential.  I wish I could offer a better explanation as to why this has happened, but I have never been in their shoes. Plus, it’s Christmas and it’s time to focus our energy on happier things.

Merry Christmas Divided Fans!

Oh…and in case you were wondering, if the Giants beat the Eagles, and Chicago, Dallas and Minnesota also lose, then we’re in. If I had to bet, which thankfully I don’t, I’d say that all those other things will happen, but then the Giants will lose to the Eagles.  Probably in overtime.  Probably by a field goal. At least it won’t be by penalty kicks. Penalty kicks are the worst.

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