They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If that’s true, being a sports fan must be the most insane practice of all.

There’s a very simple mathematical equation at work here. North American sports leagues have between 30  and 32 teams. If you’re a real fan, you only support one of those teams. Statistically, the odds of your team winning a championship in any particular year is 3%. Obviously, there are statistical anomalies here and there that crop up for a variety of reasons. If you’re a hockey fan in Los Angeles, you’ve been treated to two championships in the last three years. On the other hand, if you’re from the north side of Chicago and happen to love baseball, you’ve been waiting 107 years for your team to follow up on its 1908 championship. But still, running by pure statistics, the odds of winning a championship are roughly 3%.

And what that means is that, one way or another, the season will end on a disappointing note 97% of the time.

To me, that’s where the insanity comes in. What other show would you continue to watch if the season finales were disappointing year after year? You might forgive a disappointing finale in season one or two, but surely by season three you’ve started to notice a pattern. Are you going to stick around for season four, or five… or ten?

And me, I’m truly insane because I’ve continued to follow sports without having witnessed a single successful campaign for any of my teams, ever. The Raptors have never had so much as a sniff of glory in their 20 year history. The Blue Jays actually won consecutive titles in 1992 and 1993, but having been two years old in ’93 I obviously don’t remember any of that. They haven’t even been to the playoffs since then. And my beloved Flames last won a championship two years before I was born and came oh-so-close in 2004, but haven’t been close since then.

And yet despite the fact that it will all add up to nothing in the end, here I am watching the Flames trail the Oilers 2-0 with 20 minutes to go. Insanity, pure insanity.


EDIT: And of course, the Flames came back to win 4-2. And that’s why I love sports.