Embrace your hopes, not your fears

Being a sports fan in Minnesota often means living in a contradictory state: you’re more optimistic and less afraid of bad results when a team is just decent. But you’re pessimistic and scared when a team looks like it could really be something special.

Let’s give it a name: The Minnesota Sports Outcome Paradox. The better things seem, the worse they can get. The worse things seem, the better they can get.

We can be forgiven for taking this confusing standard approach, because evidence suggests that’s how things played out. Perhaps Minnesota sports fans just intuitively understand regression and progression to the mean.

Or maybe they just got their hopes up too much, only to be crushed when they started believing. (If that’s how you felt, say, watching the Vikings get beat up at Monday Night Football a few days ago, then the wounds are very fresh).

I sense that sentiment applies to the Gophers 2022 football team as well — something I talked about on Friday’s Daily Delivery podcast.

There are many indications that the Big Ten West are very winnable this season. There is also a lot of evidence that this is a very good football team.

The Gophers are #2 in FBS in overall offense AND overall defense after three non-conference routes. They have depth and balance on both sides of the ball and an unusual combination of conviction and focus.

“When you come together for a common cause and with a common goal, great things will happen,” Gophers linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin said on Thursday’s podcast.

Inside, the gophers show no fear. They see only opportunity ahead, with the next challenge being the start of the Big Ten season in Michigan State on Saturday.

Outwardly, some Gophers fans may be wondering: is Minnesota really as good as it has looked so far? Finally, the three opponents on the schedule so far — New Mexico State, Western Illinois, and Colorado — seem like less-than-tough competition.

Should the Gophers really be three-point favorites on the road against a Spartans team that was ranked 11th in the country before a loss to Washington last weekend knocked them out of the top-25?

I do not know. I know it might be time for a clean break from the Minnesota Sports Outcome Paradox.

Try this with the gophers: Embrace your hopes, not your fears.

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