Basketball PTSD Is Real, And I Know Because I’m A Cleveland Fan

I’m from a very rural part of Ohio. The town I lived in was so small it didn’t even have a traffic light and that’s why, when anyone asks where I’m from, I usually reference the closest actual city, which is Cleveland. It’s just easier that way, and I also spent a lot of time in Cleveland during the 29 years I lived in Ohio. Cleveland has a certain charm to it: it’s humble, unassuming, and makes regular people who aren’t rich feel at home. Being a sports fan in Cleveland, however, is another story. If you want to know what true heartbreak feels like, try being a Cleveland fan for a season.

I’m not much of a football fan, which is a shock to many people since I’m a diehard Ohio girl. I think I never really got into football because of my bad experiences in high school with football players bullying me until I tried to end my life (and school administrators refusing to do anything about it because football was more important to them). That’s enough to make football less appealing to almost anyone. I watch baseball sometimes, like if the Indians (excuse me, Native Americans) are coming close to a potential World Series win, but overall I find baseball too slow to watch regularly. Basketball, however, is both my favorite sport (to watch and play) and sometimes the bane of my existence.

I’ve been a Cleveland Cavaliers fan my entire life (well, after I finally escaped from the media-free Baptist bunker I was raised in). I remember when Lebron James was drafted initially, when he made a very public spectacle of dumping Cleveland like we were the plain Jane girlfriend he was just leading on until he found someone more glamorous, the subsequent years of complete suck-dom that came afterwards, and the letter he wrote to Cleveland fans when he came back looking for another chance to be a part of The Land. My favorite memory, of course, was June 19, 2016, when my very own Cavs won the first championship Cleveland had seen in over 50 years and our curse was finally broken. This was my reaction (after I stopped crying tears of joy):

Also my reaction: SUCK IT GOLDEN STATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That was a great year overall. In 2016, not only did my beloved Cavs get their first ring, but so did I later that year when my now-husband proposed to me…in Cleveland! The next year, however, everything was back to normal for us. We wanted to hope for a do-over of the 2015-2016 season, but we knew it wasn’t wise to hope for such things when there’s a 99.9% chance of being let down. At the end of every season (except 2016), we say the same thing as we struggle to smile through our disappointment: There’s always next year.

Going into the fall and the upcoming new season of basketball inevitably ends up bringing out the PTSD in all of us, and this year it’s worse than it’s been in years because it’s time for 2010 Season 2.0: Rebuilding the team after Lebron ran his mouth for years about staying in Cleveland only to prove that we can’t trust a damn word he says. At least we know better now. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me for ever hoping you were being honest.

Even though the basketball PTSD is setting in hardcore, there’s still that part of me that simply loves the game and is excited to see my Cavs play again. Our roster this time is much better than it was in 2010, and we have a lot of talented players that are excited to represent The Land. It won’t be a championship-run year, but I don’t think it will be a complete blowout year either, and I’ll always be a fan either way because that’s the nature of Cleveland fans: we believe in long-term loyalty, not bandwagons.

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