I'm going to tell you all about a friend of mine who is going through some relationship trouble. For the sake of privacy, we will call my friend "Mary," and her boyfriend, "Bill."
Mary and Bill have been together since anyone can remember. They actually met in preschool (who does that anymore?) and were childhood sweethearts. I mean, they got in some fights, they disappointed each other from time to time, but really, when you're together at such a young age, everything is great because you don't know about bad things in the world.
Then, in their late teens, things got a little rocky. The big announcement came - Bill was moving. It was sad, but these two couldn't stay together forever, right?
After about three years apart, Bill came back, and though Mary had dated casually during those years, nothing could fill the void that Bill had left. Once Bill came back, she went back to what she thought was the love of her life.
Fast forward to today. Since Bill returned, he and Mary have been together for 15 years, but in no way has it been the blissful times they spent together as kids. They fight at least once per week. Mary spends money on Bill and rarely does she see any gratitude or thanks. In fact, he takes her money and runs with it.
As for Bill, well, it seems he changes everyday on what he wants to do with his life. He'll try some things, but after about a year or two he realizes that's not the path, so he starts from scratch. He always says that he's doing this for the betterment of their relationship, but how many times can he try something and it not work out? It's a vicious circle in their relationship.
Oh, and the best part is that every time Mary thinks things are going to get better, Bill does something to crush her heart. It's becoming the same story with them year after year. It's heartbreaking to watch, but she keeps going back to him. Her thought process? They've been together their entire lives, why should she jump ship?
I'm telling Mary to get out. Why should she be with someone who doesn't treat her right? Rarely does she receive joy out of their union, so why should she live her life with Bill just because she has devoted pretty much her entire time on this earth to making it work?
Does everyone agree with me that Mary should dump Bill because she deserves better and he refuses to return the love that she gives to him?
In a relationship between two people, everyone would agree with me on this point. But when I tell you that I?am Mary and Bill is the Cleveland Browns, all of the sudden I am a bandwagon jumper.
I'm not a jumper, I'm just trying to be rational. But this is what sports fandom does to us - it makes us think irrationally.
When is enough enough? If you go to the same barber or hairstylist for 15 years and they keep giving you the same bad hair cut, do you go back? If an employer dumps on you week after week and leaves you hating life on most days, don't you look for another job?
If you're in an abusive, going-nowhere relationship, you're told by friends and family to leave before you can get hurt anymore.
But when you're a sports fan - and most importantly a Cleveland Browns fan - you are told to stay strong because it can't get any worse. Then when you breathe a word about leaving the team, you are called a bandwagon jumper for wanting to get out of this abusive fan-team relationship that some people have been in longer than I've been alive. How is this rational thinking?
I posted on my personal Facebook page after the Browns fired Rob Chudzinski that I was done. I was going to go back to the team that got me through the years that the Browns were gone (or in my story, when Bill moved away) - which was the Green Bay Packers.
But I feel guilty. I feel like I'm cheating on the Browns. Just the thought of wavering away from my orange and brown and putting on green and yellow makes me feel like I'm a quitter. I don't want to be a quitter.
Then I think rationally about it, and why should I (or any other fan) feel guilty? Two winning seasons since 1999 and one playoff berth. More coaches and quarterbacks than someone can count. Becoming the laughingstock of the league, and really, all of sports. That's what we've devoted our lives to loving. I for one am over it.
Who wants to be in a relationship with that? I sure don't.
So Browns, I'm breaking up with you. If you were a real person, I would have done it long ago. But I'm tired of giving and giving, while getting nothing in return.
Can we get back together someday? Maybe. If you turn your life around, show me that you're on the right track, and stick with something more than a year, I'll consider it. But right now, we need to go our separate ways.
Because that is what a rational person would do.