This year has been an exciting time for Minnesota football fans. The Vikings are on a roll, multiple wins in a row as of this writing, with a new quarterback and great defense. We’ve beaten several good teams, and are looking to expand our record. Naturally, hushed speculation has emerged. Could Minnesota actually make it to the “the big game?” I would certainly hope so, but it might be good to look back and see how things have turned out before.
The reason this speculation is hushed, of course, is what I like to call the Great Curse of Minnesota sports. This curse, although not definite (it avoids our repeated women’s basketball champions, the Lynx), seems to be particularly focused on the Vikings, especially during playoff season. The latest iteration, as I can remember watching in 2016, was Blair Walsh’s miss of a field goal against the Seahawks at the end of a playoff game, allowing our opponents to win by a score of 10-9.
It also struck during another one of our best runs in the 2009-2010 season. With our former nemesis and new quarterback Brett Favre at the helm, the Vikings ran an impressive 12-4 season, making it to the playoffs as the winner of the NFC North division. After a massive 34-3 win against Dallas, the stage was set for the NFC Championship against the New Orleans Saints.
I remember the stakes going into that game and how my much younger self had felt. The whole school was abuzz about the Vikings’ run up to that point. Favre and Adrian Peterson jerseys were a very popular item, and this game was the talk of the town among friends and family. As the game remained close, I held my breath and watched every play at the edge of my seat. I hollered excitedly at Minnesota’s successes and watched with horror when the Saints took down our players or scored themselves. Our eventual 28-31 loss in overtime felt like a massive letdown.
The fact of the Saints’ later “big-game” victory made things all the more disappointing because “that” could have been us. And later on, things came out that many in our state had felt all along. The New Orleans Saints players had been influenced and paid to attempt to injure the opposing team’s players. Minnesota had experienced another force of the universe working against us.
Thus my slight skepticism about our chances at a “big game” appearance. But as a fan of all of our state’s sports teams, I hear that voice in the back of my mind. Maybe our luck will be good this time. What if this is the year? This could be the year things change, that Minnesota has our big time in the spotlight.
Our high-school sports teams this year at Sauk Rapids-Rice, and our senior class in general have been pushing a message this year: change the culture. To us, it means increasing participation, building school spirit and believing we can make a difference. This year perhaps, we can change the Vikings’ culture. Maybe we will win the big one this year, maybe not. But we can change how we think about it and how we view it.
This year, if we win, let’s celebrate and get behind our team. If we lose, we know we’ve had a good run and a strong team will certainly be back for another shot next year. Our so-called curse doesn’t need to be one if we believe things will ultimately work out in the end for our team.
The Vikings and our other state sports’ teams should unite us, to entertain, but maybe also to inspire. Here’s a group of football players working as a team in order to accomplish its goal. They face challenges, but they stick together through thick and thin. That’s something we can all aspire to.
Connor Kockler is a Sauk Rapids-Rice High School student. He enjoys writing, politics and news, among other interests.
Author: Connor Kockler
Kockler enjoys extensive reading, especially biographies and historical novels, and he has always had an almost inborn knack for writing well. He also enjoys following the political scene, nationally and internationally. In school, his favorite subjects are social studies and language. Two of his other hobbies are golfing and bicycling.