If, like me, you tend to get a little overwrought about things like college football games or how your favorite team is faring, I’ve got a suggestion for you: read this story and, especially, read the handwritten letter that nine-year-old Fraser Hartnell wrote to the coach, the quarterback, the team, and the fans of the Michigan State Spartans.
Michigan State has had a tough season this year — the kind of season that no doubt has a lot of Spartan fans grumbling and saying unkind things about the coach and the players. In this social media era, it’s easy for fans to post the most appallingly negative, hurtful things about young athletes playing college sports. I’m amazed at what some people say publicly about college and professional athletes, and I’d like to think that, if those fans just thought about how deeply wounding some of their comments are, they might not make them in the first place.
Fraser Hartnell helps to put it all in perspective. He plays quarterback on his football team, and he knows that things like interceptions happen. The important thing is to learn from them, and keep trying. He went to a Michigan State game this year that the Spartans lost in heartbreaking fashion, but he still had fun — and, as Fraser recognizes, sports is really supposed to be about having fun, anyway.
Here’s what he had to say to MSU fans who were upset about the loss in that game:
“We did not win but you can still have fun when you lose because you love your team no matter what. Not everyone gets to go see a game so if you get mad I feel sad for you. Some people get spoiled like a kid who gets all the Christmas gifts. They are only happy with wins. Losing gets rid of the bad fans. That way when we win we can enjoy it. I like wins but it is not all in life. There are a lot of things sadder than losing a game.”
My guess is that most of the adult sports fans who read Fraser Hartnell’s heartfelt letter — myself included — will see a little of the “bad fan” in themselves, and realize that they need to take Fraser’s viewpoint to heart. I’m going to try to adopt Fraser’s positive attitude when I watch the Buckeyes and the Browns this weekend. As Fraser wisely says: “Games are supposed to be FUN but they are just games.”