In 1969, Swiss-born psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published a book on the five stages of grief. These stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – represent the progression of feelings people go through when dealing with death. This book garnered Dr. Kübler-Ross worldwide acclaim, and to this day her theories are required learning for every physician, psychologist, and pet mortician the world over.
Near the end of her career, Kübler-Ross, who was a long-time Milwaukee Bucks fan, adapted her theories on death and dying for sports bloggers dealing with the harsh truth of their team’s mediocrity. At the time, this paper was widely-rejected by Dr. Kübler-Ross’ peers seeing as the words ‘blogger’, ‘internet’, and ‘Raptors’ hadn’t been coined yet. Her paper remained unpublished for more than three decades before coming to light after her passing. The following is an excerpt from this controversial paper, obtained exclusively by the hard working investigative staff at BallerBall.
- The first action of a blogger covering a terrible team is to completely ignore reality. They are motivated to turn a blind eye towards their team’s losing record. They brush off their mountains of woefully pitiful statistics. They rationalize by saying things like, “There’s still a lot of games to be played” or “Just wait until January.” When January comes and goes, they vehemently predict a complete turnaround coming right after the All-Star break. To make themselves feel better, they might even troll angry fans in comment sections and forums. Anything to distance themselves from the abysmal truth.
- When the truth can no longer be avoided and the walls they’ve built to insulate themselves from it come crashing down, anger takes over. The blogger resorts to blaming everything and everyone for the team’s plight. They blame injuries. They blame the schedule. They might even blame the mascot. If the team is old, they blame the coach for refusing to play the young guys. If a team is young, they blame the front office for not bringing in veteran leadership. If the team is owned by the league, they blame the Commissioner for collusion. If the team has an owner, they blame him for being cheap. Their vitriol knows no bounds. Essentially, they become a high-functioning troll with a platform, like Gremlins meets The Newsroom.
- When their anger subsides or the valium finally kicks in, they resort to bargaining in the way only a sports blogger can. They concoct crazy trades. Like transactional Hail Marys, they search for hope in desperate trade scenarios. They’ll talk themselves into moves which bring the reigning scoring champ to town in exchange for draft picks, expiring contracts, and Kurt Thomas. They’ll construct elaborate multi-team deals where their team gets multiple All-Stars in exchange for a promising rookie in the D-League, a wiley veteran in a Rascal, and a trade exception. To make room for the hope they are building in their own mind, they throw out rationality and logic like Sam Bowie bobbleheads. The hope they cling to so tightly in this stage is inevitably stripped away when the Trade Deadline passes and none of his imagined moves has been executed. At this point, the blogger stares at the remaining 30 games the way a five year old stares at broccoli.
- The onset of depression is inevitable when forced to cover unrelenting mediocrity. In previous stages of this progression, the blogger’s optimism held them back from openly mocking, chastising, or textually tar-and-feathering the players. In this stage, that dam bursts and all the pent up furor floods out. The length of this stage and depths to which the blogger might stoop are determined by a number of factors. Is the team blowing fourth quarter leads? Have the players openly quit on their coach? Are the lovable, homer announcers openly mocking the team? Is Jeff Green getting significant minutes? In some extreme cases, this stage goes on indefinitely and requires some sort of editorial intervention.
- Typically, the end of the depression stage is marked by complete numbness. It is a sensation similar to what one might experience when freezing to death. In this state, the blogger is no longer fazed by 20 turnover games, 4-for-17 shooting nights, or star players bringing handguns to the locker room. No occurrence, no matter how upsetting, elicits an emotion. The blogger has transcended beyond this season. Their focus has turned to college basketball and their team’s 7.6% chance of getting the #1 pick and drafting that kid from Kentucky.