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The One Thing All Fans Want

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There's one quality, one thing, that all fans are after - because without it, we wouldn't be fans at all.

Kevin Love has it. So does Darko Milicic. So does Ben Revere. Adrian Peterson still has it, even now, and Joe Webb wouldn't even have a job except that he has it, but Brett Favre doesn't have it, not even a little bit, not any more.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard has it, again, after all this time, and Martin Havlat kind of does, and Cam Barker used to have it, but now I think it's gone. Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert are virtually the same player, but Casilla has it and Tolbert doesn't and that's why Casilla may be the starting second baseman for the Twins next spring.

College sports are absolutely chock full of it - in fact, it might be their single biggest draw. Mel Kiper and the gigantic hoopla around the NFL Draft wouldn't exist without it. The seedy worlds of recruiting websites and AAU tournaments wouldn't exist without it, either.

It's the one thing all sports fans want, the one thing that keeps them coming back: Potential. Hope. The idea that, no matter what things are like today, things might be better tomorrow. It's the reason that the Timberwolves actually have some buzz around them and the Wild are don't, even though the Wolves are mediocre and the Wild merely below-average. It's the reason that, even though Luke Ridnour's here and Ricky Rubio may never be, any kid with sense in his head would take a Rubio jersey over a Ridnour shirt in a heartbeat.

College sports turn the roster over every four or five years. It keeps the fans coming back; there's always another phenomenal freshman coming in, always a new roster to get excited about - it's that hope of better things. It's also the reason that the great majority of fans want to fire the coach and get somebody new; it's that hope of something better.

I find it wonderful that sports fans - many of whom, like me, are outwardly pessimistic about nearly everything to do with our favorite teams - have based their fanaticism on what effectively is blind, misguided optimism. The truth is that things won't always get better, and most of our teams will probably end up being not very good, and ultimately all of that potential will be wasted and go for nothing.

But we'll still keep coming back, because we're optimists at heart; if we weren't, we wouldn't be fans at all. Hope and potential - they're the things we really need. You might be an cynic like me, but in this, my last column for this site, I leave you with one encouragement: keep hope alive. It's all we fans have to go on.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.