In these tough times for the Sabres and the fans, I thought I'd ask the question that has been on a lot of people's minds since the end of the Buffalo Sabres 2005-2007 team: Has it been worth it, being a Buffalo sports fan?
My grandfather died late last year. Earlier that year when the Sabres were eliminated from playoff contention (and the Bills long before that), I asked him the same question. I thought I'd get the classic "Through the ups and downs of it all, no matter how many bad moments there where, the good times made up for it all" response. I was honestly surprised when he straight up told me, "No". He went on to tell me that he probably would've bought a couple more years to live had he not experienced the Bills 0-4 Super Bowl heartbreak and 38 letdown Sabres seasons, not to mention watch his Buffalo Braves NBA team fold.
Every sports team in the world has more seasons on record where they fell short, than seasons where they won it all. That's sports. The whole point of being loyal and rooting for your team no matter what, is that you won't win a championship most of the time, but once in awhile you do and when that happens you'll be able to hold your head high and say that you supported them even when they weren't winning. The trouble is, Buffalo fans can't say that. Buffalo has ZERO championships (0 for 6) in over 90 years of combined professional sports seasons. It defies all logic, and defeats the whole point of being a fan. We can't be loyal in tough times and look up at the rafters to remind ourselves that sometimes you fall short and other times you win it all. We have never had that factor. We can't be like Carolina fans and say, "Well, at least we've got one." We can't lose in the 1st round of the playoffs this year and say, "Oh well, maybe next year we'll be the champs because it's been done before and it's not always going to be like this season."
If asked the same question, I'd also be sorry to say that no, it hasn't. There hasn't been enough good to shine through the bad.
- The Bills won the AFC Championship ONE YEAR before the league merged and started calling it the Super Bowl.
- The 0-4 Super Bowl nightmare. A football sailing just 3 feet wide would forever haunt the city.
- Even the mighty French Connection couldn't win it all.
- Probably the best pairing in NHL history, Mogilny and Lafontaine (& Hasek I think), couldn't win it all in 93/94.
- The "hardest-working" 1999 team resulted in the heartbreaking "No Goal", in brutal irony, to DALLAS, yet again.
- The 2005-06 team was the PERFECT Cinderella story, then got robbed by injuries and lost to a team with 3,000 unworthy bandwagon fans with just 18 minutes to go in game 7.
- The 2006-07 team was the greatest Sabres team of all time, but quit on eachother and lost to hated rival, Ottawa.
- The 2009-10 Sabres team blows a 13 point division lead with 2 months to go, only 10 points out of 9th spot.
The above points, the fact that you can't even travel to most cities and reveal where you are from without being laughed at, the fact that we can't even look back on old championships to inspire confidence, and having seen so many hated rivals smile in the joy of winning it all or laugh, gloat and celebrate the defeat of my beloved teams (I lived in North Carolina and had my heart ripped out of my chest and stomped on by gloating laughing Canes fans, a situation I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy)... has made my conclusion that, no, it hasn't been worth it. If fanship was a business relationship, the Bills and Sabres would be deemed unproductive loose ends and CUT.
I have supported this team for years, through thick and thin, but there hasn't been any reward. The Sabres big 40th Anniversary season next year will be my last season watching the Sabres, win it all or finish last. It will also be my last watching any sort of professional sports, I don't have the stomach for it. I've seen too many smiling laughing rival fans gloat and celebrate the Sabres and Bills losing. I've heard too many "wide right", "0 Cups, 0 Super Bowls", "Barfalo = losertown forever" jokes, with NO COMEBACK available to me.
I don't want to be like my grandfather who would've been able to "die in peace" as he said, had Buffalo won just once.
Call me bandwagon, crucify me, plan that parade and flame away, but I had to put it out there. Someone has to tell it like it is. The fans here are the best in the world and the least rewarded. I think it's a crime.