If you're an avid college football fan, such as myself, you most likely know off-season depression all too well. From March until August of every year (or June until August if you're a college baseball fan) darkness falls over the world of sports. It's a wasteland of slow news days and absolute nothingness. ESPN only has Lebron James and MLB baseball to cover, and football is just a tiny speck on the horizon. The only college football action that occurs is Mark Richt dismissing players from his team and the occasional recruit commitment.
The struggle is real.
Much like quitting heroin cold turkey (I assume), going without the sweet sights and sounds of college football or really any interesting sporting events at all, for months on end, can be a very traumatic experience. Characterized by feelings of sadness, disinterest, and an innate need to carry a football with you at all times, depression from a lack of college football can be debilitating. It's a problem that cannot be cured with psychiatrists or drugs, only the dulcet tones of Verne Lundquist's voice welcoming us to the SEC on CBS can truly end the pain.
This period of depression or "off-season syndrome", as it's referred to medically (at least it would be if doctors would listen to me), has five distinct stages that I made up. These stages define different emotions you may feel while navigating the gloom of the off-season. This is simply an effort to help us all cope with the loss of sports that is inevitable around this time of year and hopefully through awareness lives can be saved (or at least improved a little bit).
Stage 1: Denial
After March Madness ends and you realize there's five months until the college football season, you will initially believe that it won't be that bad. "C'mon there's the NBA playoffs and baseball to get me through," you'll say. But as you continue to think about how long five months is and how uninterested you are in the NBA playoffs because there's only so much Lebron you can take, you begin to realize you have dark days ahead. You will try to find solace in other sports but nothing can truly fill the void that college football has left in your heart.
Stage 2: Anger
Now you're just mad. You'll ask "why me?" or "what did I do to deserve this?" You'll lash out at family members and coworkers after they try to engage you in conversations about stupid stuff like your children or Excel spreadsheets. You'll scream in frustration when you look and see that the only sports on at night are WNBA games and obscure UFC fights. This time will be particularly painful but it is all necessary in the process of getting through the off-season.
This is an example of someone who is angry. I suggest refraining from throwing chairs but if that's the form your grief takes, so be it.
Stage 3: Bargaining
At this point you will do whatever it takes to get your hands on anything football related. You'll feel desperate and begin irrationally offering things just to get your fix. "I will give up chocolate, my Xbox, and my wife if football will just come back!" you'll bargain. "Please God, I'll never curse again and I'll go to church every Sunday... uhhh, except Super Bowl Sunday, of course... if my team will just have an open practice I can go to!" but God will not hear your pleas. It's a sad state of affairs that usually only leaves you feeling worse than you did before.
Stage 4: Depression
True sadness has set in. You'll listen to Elliott Smith songs and cry while you try to find clips of the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on YouTube. You'll play NCAA Football 2013 for twenty-six straight hours without showering or speaking to anyone. Friends will invite you to dinner but you'll decline because they're replaying the spring game on ESPNU. Often the best part of your week is reading the Twitter timelines of potential recruit's. During this time you may be inconsolable but stay strong, college football is near.
Stage 5: Acceptance
You've turned a corner and finally begun to accept your feelings toward the off-season. NHL hockey and Monday Night Baseball will become the new norm. You'll find yourself no longer distraught over Mike and Mike talking about the Miami Heat for four straight hours. You'll begin to find happiness again while reading recruiting rankings and preseason polls. You've begun to come to terms with this bleak time and you know fall is not far away. The off-season lull is a fact of life but the sadness associated with it doesn't have to be. Good things come to those who wait and in time college football will return and all will be right with the world once again.
I hope this this will help you navigate the cold, dark waters of the off-season and if you're reading this and you're currently in the throes of off-season syndrome, here's the intro music to the SEC on CBS. If you listen to this on repeat for an hour or so I guarantee it will brighten your day: