Newswise — CLEVELAND -- Clevelanders have experienced a litany of sports agony, moments all beginning with one word: t-h-e. The Drive. The Fumble. The Move. The Catch. The Shot. The Hit. The Decision. In the more than half century since Cleveland's last major sports championship, fans have seen crushing defeats and agonizing disappointment.
"That ties people together in a certain way," says Jeff Janata, PhD, Division Chief of Psychology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. "Cleveland fans have taken on the identity of the gritty, tough city that kind of embraces on some level, almost has it as a badge of honor they have gone so long without winning a championship."
That could change as the Cavs play in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, sitting on the precipice of the city's first championship since the Browns 27-0 victory of the Colts on December 27, 1964. But, after 51 years, is losing indelibly etched into the city's personality, a sense of civic pride, a heart-shaped medal to wear on its collective sleeve?
"There are fans who think they are long suffering and they treasure that identity" says Dr. Janata, "who feel nudged out now by people who are front-runners who jump on the bandwagon only because the team is doing well and there's this sense of resentment about that."
The Cubs have not won a championship since 1908 and many have embraced the "lovable loser" moniker while A. Bartlett Giamatti, former Commissioner of Major League Baseball and a native New Englander, called what ultimately turned into an 86-year drought for the Red Sox "Calvinistic." But that doesn't mean these cities don't want to see a winner. Nor does it mean the pain of the past is forgotten.
"I don't think things like The Shot and The Drive and The Fumble dissipate but they create a great backdrop for a compelling story of ultimate victory," says Dr. Janata. "At least that's our hope."
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