Why Sports Are for Losers

cowboypjfancowboypjfan Posts: 2,451
edited January 2012 in All Encompassing Trip
I read this article a few years ago in Men's Journal. I really like the perspective the writer uses and it is why I don't get emotional anymore over sports. In reality, sports are a big letdown unless your team wins the big one every year. It's a good read if you are into sports at all. Enjoy!


There is a dirty truth that professional sports keeps hidden from fans, i.e., guys like you and me who spend winter after winter wondering, What if? And that truth is: Watching sports sucks.

By Matt Taibbi

If you actually pay attention to your life as a sports fan, you’ll probably notice, as I have lately, that you spend most of your time trying to cope with the disappointment and shame of (a) desperately seeking an escape from the reality of your day-to-day life through the fantasy of sports, but finding instead that (b) in 99 cases out of 100, you’re spending the off-season nursing agonizing memories of crushing defeats. “Why couldn’t the wind have pushed that field goal a little to the left?” or, “If only Fernando Freaking Rodney hadn’t hung that one slider, the Tigers might still be playing!”

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who, depending on your point of view, was either the funniest human being of all time or the most relentlessly depressing motherfucker who ever lived, perfectly described the awful dynamic of sports misery well over a century before Bill Buckner. Schopenhauer believed that the essential calculus of existence was skewed toward pain and misery. He constantly chided human beings for their baseless, ultimately self-defeating optimism, which leads ostensibly rational people to voluntarily sign themselves up for the pain of misplaced expectation in addition to the pain they’re already getting in huge doses, just by virtue of being citizens of the perpetual misery factory called Earth.

Happiness and pleasure are the temporary absence of the horrible norm, he insisted. We revel in those moments, but they are fleeting, temporary, and, as it happens, seldom comparable in duration, intensity, or scope to the miserable. If you want an idea of how the pleasure-pain ratio plays out, Schopenhauer said, “compare the feelings of an animal engaged in eating another with those of the animal being eaten.”

It’s hard to think of a better description of a business in which each year, only one team out of 30 or 32 actually wins, while fans of every other team put their hearts and souls into rooting for months at a time, only, when all is said and done, to go home feeling like they’ve had their livers sliced out with a band saw. Losing is a terrible agony, comparable to the experience of that proverbial Serengeti antelope that finds itself being eaten by the yawning and merciless predator that nature has chosen to win — usually the Yankees, incidentally, whose fans experience a merely routine, relief-like pleasure in victory. (“Man, it would have sucked to come up short with our payroll!”)

If you’re a sports fan, the system is set up so that you always lose. In the end, that’s actually what they’re selling you: loss and pain. But you don’t know that, not at first. Because they get you when you’re a kid. When you’re stupid. When you don’t even know what pain is yet.

Here’s how they got me: When I was five years old, my father took me to a World Series game. It turned out to be the greatest baseball game in the history of the sport. No lie, I was really there. Game six, the 1975 World Series, I was sitting in the bleachers, just a few rows above where Bernie Carbo’s home run landed. I remember my father spilling a thermos of hot chocolate on my little blue snow jacket when Pudge Fisk hit his famous homer.

This was heaven — the five-year-old version of being dunked in a vat of pure liquid cocaine and getting a 47-hour blow job from Anna Kournikova. My father could have been Adolf Hitler and Jeff Dahmer put together, could have spent the next five years bringing my mother home human heads in a burlap bag to serve for dinner, and he still would have been okay in my book for having taken me to that game. Years later I would be surprised to learn that the Red Sox ended up actually losing that World Series. Someone forgot to tell me that part. It didn’t matter: I wouldn’t have believed it anyway.

From that point forward, associating as I did sports with extreme happiness, I learned all the worker-elf mechanisms of fandom; learned to study statistics, even the obscure ones (I particularly remember the 406 total bases Jim Rice racked up in 1978); learned to fortify the fan experience with knowledge and expectations. Then that one year, 1978, the Sox finished the regular season in a tie with the Yankees and there was that one-game playoff scheduled at Fenway Park. My father, a reporter, promised to take me to the Red Sox clubhouse to meet Pudge and Jimmy Rice and Fred Lynn if the Red Sox won. Life was awesome! I was going to get another blow job from Anna Kournikova, and this one was going to last forever!

I remember watching that piddly-ass fly ball by Bucky Dent flutter into the nets above the Green Monster — weakly, like a badminton shuttlecock hit the wrong way by a Special Olympian whose coaches still cheered him on for trying hard — and understanding for the first time what life was all about. I felt like I’d had an Amana refrigerator covered in battery acid shoved up my ass. I’d close my eyes, open them two seconds later, try to think about something else. No dice; I’m still seeing that shuttlecock drop in the net, accompanied by that sharp pain in my side.

A month passes. Mom tucks me in at night, tells me some story not involving Bucky Dent, something about crows and pear blossoms and goodness winning out in the world. I’m not listening; I’m thinking about Don Zimmer leaving Mike (86 mph) Torrez in the game too long. I sleep poorly, wake up, hear the wind whistling through my second-floor window, and see Bucky Dent still trotting around the bases with that surprised look on his face. As in, Geez, Matt, do you believe it was me who hit that thing? I’m still as stunned as you are! I was just trying to get the ball in play! Oh, and did you sleep well, you little bitch?

It would be almost 30 years before I understood that while Pudge was the high that set me on the road to being a junkie, Bucky Dent was the reason I stayed one. The pro sports leagues, they can’t sell you the winning feeling every year. They can’t even promise you’ll experience it once a decade, or even in your lifetime — hello, Detroit Lions and Chicago Cubs fans.

What they can promise you is pain and disappointment, and lots of it, lots of watching other cities pick Michael Jordan instead of Sam Bowie, lots of watching other places get Kobe and Shaq, while you get to pin your hopes on a plugger like Emeka Okafor or a discombobulated package of half-skills like Yi Jianlian, who once a month for the next eight years will have “breakout games” of 14 points and six rebounds.

For most sports fans, this is probably your life, and what gets you coming back is the promise that if you keep watching, Yi and Brook Lopez might throw you a win or two over a real team once in a while and that Great Botulinum-Laced Hunting Knife of Eternal Loserdom just might get pulled out of your thorax for a few days. That’s why they sell the pain so hard.

That’s why, Mets fans, they want to get those images of beer-fattened Phillies fans roaring and gloating into the cameras in front of you as much as possible. That’s why you’re still going to see tapes of Luis Castillo dropping that pop-up at least 400 more times before spring training begins. That’s why every day on the way home from work for the next four months you’ll hear Mike Francesa bleating about how Jerry Manuel can’t make a real outfielder out of Daniel Murphy — “He can’t do it, Mets fans, he just can’t do it!”

And you need this why? Because the sharper the pain, the more intense your desire for even a temporary reprieve will be, and come April you’ll be tuning in again for that almost-daily chance at having it all go away for a few hours. Meanwhile, between innings, your local TV network will be selling you lots of shit, including a vast array of very fattening foods that by an amazing coincidence have the curious property of temporarily allaying psychic pain by flooding your bloodstream with temporarily stupefying endorphin-inducing fats and oils.

People who pay attention to these things have long understood that in the non-sports entertainment world, the major media networks want to make viewers feel like shit by constantly bombarding them with images of people who look perfect and have lots of money and no shortage of sexual opportunities. You watch The Hills or Gossip Girl long enough, you’ll buy almost any product they shove at you in the commercial break that promises to make you look, sound, or smell less like your actual inadequate self and more like the preening, carefree spokesmodels you follow on the show.

Men laugh at women for buying Cosmo and Marie Claire and all those other magazines full of pictures of impossibly thin models with perfectly fitting clothes and $1,800 handbags, wondering why the other sex has such a bottomless appetite for self-abasement. Then those same men spend 340 nights a year following, with racing pulses and gritted teeth, sports teams doomed to disappoint them in 98 percent of cases. What we don’t realize until it’s too late is that we are watching the same show. They’re selling us disappointment, and we can’t get enough of it. Just so long as there’s a next year to think about.
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Comments

  • Phantom PainPhantom Pain Posts: 9,876
    Already convinced yourself the Cowgirls won't win it next year

    :lol:
    My drinking team has a hockey problem

    The ONLY thing better than a glass of beer is tea with Miss McGill



    A protuberance of flesh above the waistband of a tight pair of trousers
  • cowboypjfancowboypjfan Posts: 2,451
    Already convinced yourself the Cowgirls won't win it next year

    :lol:

    Yeah, that's it :lol:

    Did you like the article?
  • 8181 Needing a ride to Forest Hills and a ounce of weed. Please inquire within. Thanks. Or not.Posts: 58,276
    read it last year...good article...makes sense...but at the same time, i like sports, and i like watching them....just don't go worked up over them as much as some...unless it's Michigan...fuck Michigan. :lol:
    81 is now off the air

    Off_Air.jpg
  • Black DiamondBlack Diamond Posts: 25,090
    81 wrote:
    ...unless it's Michigan...fuck Michigan. :lol:
    I believe that is already taking place...
    GoiMTvP.gif
  • Drowned OutDrowned Out Posts: 6,040
    I stopped reading after the first paragraph. If you take them this seriously, you're an idiot...I don't, so I thought it was pointless to continue reading.

    Still.....scrolling down the page to see the comments below, this sentence jumped out at me like a flashing beacon of awesomeness:
    crazypjfan wrote:
    being dunked in a vat of pure liquid cocaine and getting a 47-hour blow job from Anna Kournikova.

    ...the writer has redeemed himself.
  • Mamasan23Mamasan23 Posts: 16,355
    Interesting article...there are a lot of great things about being a sports fan too that the writer doesn't mention. When your team DOES win the big one, it makes up for all those losing years. People that take it THAT seriously may have a problem, it's all in fun. Yeah it's a bumout when your team doesn't make it, but is there anything in life that is 100% guaranteed to make you happy all the time?

    Also, what would I gamble on if there were no sports?? :shock:
    WI '98 WI '99 (EV) WI '00 Chgo '00 MO '00 Champaign '03 Chgo '03 WI '03 IN '03 MI '04 Chgo '06:N1 & 2 WI '06 Chgo '07 Chgo '08 (EV:N1) Chgo '09:N1 & 2 Chgo '11 (EV:N1) WI '11:N1 & 2 Philly '12 Wrigley '13 Pitt '13 Buff '13 Detroit '14 MKE '14 Wrigley '16 N1 & N2
  • Phantom PainPhantom Pain Posts: 9,876
    crazypjfan wrote:
    Already convinced yourself the Cowgirls won't win it next year

    :lol:

    Yeah, that's it :lol:

    Did you like the article?
    I did

    I think maturity has a lot to do with it

    The older ya get there are more important things then sports

    Like raising a 2 year old and maintaining a job

    I'm not invested like I used to be
    My drinking team has a hockey problem

    The ONLY thing better than a glass of beer is tea with Miss McGill



    A protuberance of flesh above the waistband of a tight pair of trousers
  • Phantom PainPhantom Pain Posts: 9,876
    81 wrote:
    read it last year...good article...makes sense...but at the same time, i like sports, and i like watching them....just don't go worked up over them as much as some...unless it's Michigan...fuck Michigan. :lol:

    ff_780962_xl.jpg&w=400

    :wave:
    My drinking team has a hockey problem

    The ONLY thing better than a glass of beer is tea with Miss McGill



    A protuberance of flesh above the waistband of a tight pair of trousers
  • Johnny AbruzzoJohnny Abruzzo PhillyPosts: 7,343
    The opposite side is when you hate a sports team you get a happy ending most of the time. ;)
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  • cowboypjfancowboypjfan Posts: 2,451
    Mamasan23 wrote:
    but is there anything in life that is 100% guaranteed to make you happy all the time?

    A blowjob by Anna Kournikova? :lol:
  • cowboypjfancowboypjfan Posts: 2,451
    The opposite side is when you hate a sports team you get a happy ending most of the time. ;)

    I'm confused since you mentioned happy ending and that woman tennis player has been mentioned here as well :lol: :lol:
  • Johnny AbruzzoJohnny Abruzzo PhillyPosts: 7,343
    crazypjfan wrote:
    The opposite side is when you hate a sports team you get a happy ending most of the time. ;)

    I'm confused since you mentioned happy ending and that woman tennis player has been mentioned here as well :lol: :lol:

    Uh huh, pun intended. ;)
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  • Johnny AbruzzoJohnny Abruzzo PhillyPosts: 7,343
    Mamasan23 wrote:
    but is there anything in life that is 100% guaranteed to make you happy all the time

    Um...

    A Pearl Jam concert
    A dinner at a great restaurant
    A good bottle of wine
    A trip to Cinque Terre: http://community.pearljam.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=181507 ;)

    And yeah, that one championship can redeem all those years of suffering.
    Spectrum 10/27/09; New Orleans JazzFest 5/1/10; Made in America 9/2/12;
    WF Center 10/21/13; WF Center 10/22/13; Baltimore Arena 10/27/13;
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    Tres Mtns - TLA 3/23/11
    EV - Tower Theatre 6/25/11
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  • Cliffy6745Cliffy6745 Posts: 28,012
    Not sure I could disagree more. How about being an adult about it and living with every pitch but understanding it's just a game and it has no real impact on your life and there's no reason to lose sleep over it. Sure, when the Yankees lose I get upset and frustrated, but not to the point it will have any negative impact on my life.

    And really, following sports are about a lot more than just your team winning. It's memories and entertainment. Sure it's awesome when your team wins, that week in October 2009 was fucking awesome. But really, some of the best times/memories of my old man, who died this year, were around baseball. And some of my best times I had with my grandfather who is 100 were at Penn State games. Any heartache I have ever experienced as a fan (I'm looking at you 2004) is more than worth the memories I have with my family and friends. Obviously there is a whole lot more to these relationships than just sports, but it's something you share with people close to you.
  • Johnny AbruzzoJohnny Abruzzo PhillyPosts: 7,343
    Cliffy6745 wrote:
    Not sure I could disagree more. How about being an adult about it and living with every pitch but understanding it's just a game and it has no real impact on your life and there's no reason to lose sleep over it. Sure, when the Yankees lose I get upset and frustrated, but not to the point it will have any negative impact on my life.

    And really, following sports are about a lot more than just your team winning. It's memories and entertainment. Sure it's awesome when your team wins, that week in October 2009 was fucking awesome. But really, some of the best times/memories of my old man, who died this year, were around baseball. And some of my best times I had with my grandfather who is 100 were at Penn State games. Any heartache I have ever experienced as a fan (I'm looking at you 2004) is more than worth the memories I have with my family and friends. Obviously there is a whole lot more to these relationships than just sports, but it's something you share with people close to you.

    Also, just a nice Sunday afternoon or Friday night at the ballpark can very memorable, even if later on your team fields an impotent lineup in the playoffs.
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  • BinFrogBinFrog MAPosts: 7,290
    I am a sports fan, but a friend of mine posted this on FB the other day and I thought it was amusing:

    http://verydemotivational.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/demotivational-posters-nerds-have-this.jpg
    Bright eyed kid: "Wow Typo Man, you're the best!"
    Typo Man: "Thanks kidz, but remembir, stay in skool!"
  • Cliffy6745Cliffy6745 Posts: 28,012
    Cliffy6745 wrote:
    Not sure I could disagree more. How about being an adult about it and living with every pitch but understanding it's just a game and it has no real impact on your life and there's no reason to lose sleep over it. Sure, when the Yankees lose I get upset and frustrated, but not to the point it will have any negative impact on my life.

    And really, following sports are about a lot more than just your team winning. It's memories and entertainment. Sure it's awesome when your team wins, that week in October 2009 was fucking awesome. But really, some of the best times/memories of my old man, who died this year, were around baseball. And some of my best times I had with my grandfather who is 100 were at Penn State games. Any heartache I have ever experienced as a fan (I'm looking at you 2004) is more than worth the memories I have with my family and friends. Obviously there is a whole lot more to these relationships than just sports, but it's something you share with people close to you.

    Also, just a nice Sunday afternoon or Friday night at the ballpark can very memorable, even if later on your team fields an impotent lineup in the playoffs.

    haha, agreed. It's everything that goes along with it, not just the winning and losing.
  • cowboypjfancowboypjfan Posts: 2,451
    Cliffy6745 wrote:
    Not sure I could disagree more. How about being an adult about it and living with every pitch but understanding it's just a game and it has no real impact on your life and there's no reason to lose sleep over it. Sure, when the Yankees lose I get upset and frustrated, but not to the point it will have any negative impact on my life.

    And really, following sports are about a lot more than just your team winning. It's memories and entertainment. Sure it's awesome when your team wins, that week in October 2009 was fucking awesome. But really, some of the best times/memories of my old man, who died this year, were around baseball. And some of my best times I had with my grandfather who is 100 were at Penn State games. Any heartache I have ever experienced as a fan (I'm looking at you 2004) is more than worth the memories I have with my family and friends. Obviously there is a whole lot more to these relationships than just sports, but it's something you share with people close to you.

    Sorry to hear about your dad, CLiffy. I have many memories of being at sporting events with family as well and you just can't replace those! The point of this article may elude to the fact that these are the more important aspects of sports than winning the big one(the author mentions being at his first game when he was 5 and not even caring who won or lost).

    I still remember being soaked at the Vet in 93 to witness Emmitt Smith rush for a ridiculous amount of yards but being there with my dad, grandpa and uncle were the best part about that experience.
  • Cliffy6745Cliffy6745 Posts: 28,012
    crazypjfan wrote:
    Cliffy6745 wrote:
    Not sure I could disagree more. How about being an adult about it and living with every pitch but understanding it's just a game and it has no real impact on your life and there's no reason to lose sleep over it. Sure, when the Yankees lose I get upset and frustrated, but not to the point it will have any negative impact on my life.

    And really, following sports are about a lot more than just your team winning. It's memories and entertainment. Sure it's awesome when your team wins, that week in October 2009 was fucking awesome. But really, some of the best times/memories of my old man, who died this year, were around baseball. And some of my best times I had with my grandfather who is 100 were at Penn State games. Any heartache I have ever experienced as a fan (I'm looking at you 2004) is more than worth the memories I have with my family and friends. Obviously there is a whole lot more to these relationships than just sports, but it's something you share with people close to you.

    Sorry to hear about your dad, CLiffy. I have many memories of being at sporting events with family as well and you just can't replace those! The point of this article may elude to the fact that these are the more important aspects of sports than winning the big one(the author mentions being at his first game when he was 5 and not even caring who won or lost).

    I still remember being soaked at the Vet in 93 to witness Emmitt Smith rush for a ridiculous amount of yards but being there with my dad, grandpa and uncle were the best part about that experience.

    Thanks man. Oh no doubt, but his point is also that sports set you up for extreme disappointment year after year, when in fact, that is probably only true for the knuckleheads that call into sports talk radio and get all worked up. A little perspective is all that's needed to enjoy sports as you should.
  • cowboypjfancowboypjfan Posts: 2,451
    Cliffy6745 wrote:
    the knuckleheads that call into sports talk radio and get all worked up.

    Mad Dog Radio always has some beauties that call in. I think it's so funny that these people have nothing better to do than call and whine about their team.
  • Cliffy6745Cliffy6745 Posts: 28,012
    crazypjfan wrote:
    Cliffy6745 wrote:
    the knuckleheads that call into sports talk radio and get all worked up.

    Mad Dog Radio always has some beauties that call in. I think it's so funny that these people have nothing better to do than call and whine about their team.

    No doubt. It's pretty embarrassing.
  • Johnny AbruzzoJohnny Abruzzo PhillyPosts: 7,343
    I was at the Vet Mothers Day 1993 with my mom (who never goes to baseball games) and my grandmom (it was the last baseball she ever went to). Down 5-2 in the 8th, Mariano Duncan won the game with his famous grand slam. When we got to our seats, a big old lady was sitting next to my grandmom with a giant yellow boombox and a big thermos of spiked punch, and my grandmom just about had a conniption and sent my mom off to take care of it. What a day! :lol:

    Yeah, that season ended badly, but the journey sure was a lot of fun!
    Spectrum 10/27/09; New Orleans JazzFest 5/1/10; Made in America 9/2/12;
    WF Center 10/21/13; WF Center 10/22/13; Baltimore Arena 10/27/13;
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    Tres Mtns - TLA 3/23/11
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  • Cliffy6745Cliffy6745 Posts: 28,012
    I was at the Vet Mothers Day 1993 with my mom (who never goes to baseball games) and my grandmom (it was the last baseball she ever went to). Down 5-2 in the 8th, Mariano Duncan won the game with his famous grand slam. When we got to our seats, a big old lady was sitting next to my grandmom with a giant yellow boombox and a big thermos of spiked punch, and my grandmom just about had a conniption and sent my mom off to take care of it. What a day! :lol:

    Yeah, that season ended badly, but the journey sure was a lot of fun!

    That's hilarious
  • Jason PJason P Posts: 17,418
    The most important part about sports is that it allows good reason for drinking beer and eating crappy food.

    If you crack a beer at 9 am on a routine Saturday, people consider you an alcholic. Do it at 9 am at a tailgate, and no one gives you a second glance.

    This is why sports are important!
  • Indifference71Indifference71 ChicagoPosts: 13,017
    Cliffy6745 wrote:
    crazypjfan wrote:
    Cliffy6745 wrote:
    the knuckleheads that call into sports talk radio and get all worked up.

    Mad Dog Radio always has some beauties that call in. I think it's so funny that these people have nothing better to do than call and whine about their team.

    No doubt. It's pretty embarrassing.


    Sports radio is pretty tough to listen to at times with all of these idiots that call in.
    6/18/03, 5/17/06, 6/30/06, 8/5/07, 6/22/08, 8/23/09, 8/24/09, 5/7/10, 9/3/11, 9/4/11, 7/19/13, 11/21/13, 11/23/13, 11/24/13, 10/17/14, 10/20/14, 4/18/16, 4/20/16, 5/2/16, 5/3/16, 8/20/16, 8/22/16
  • 8181 Needing a ride to Forest Hills and a ounce of weed. Please inquire within. Thanks. Or not.Posts: 58,276
    Sports radio is pretty tough to listen to at times with all of these idiots that are behind the mic.


    fixed.

    it's not even sports any more around here....it's like 10% sports, 50% blabbing about nothing, and 40% commericals.
    81 is now off the air

    Off_Air.jpg
  • pjhawkspjhawks Posts: 9,219
    sports are about moments. moments with your family, your friends, even strangers. yes winning titles is the ultimate goal for any fan of any team, but the journeys can be awfully joyous even if a championship doesn't happen. 100% of my favorite and most memorable sports moments are about not only what happened on the field but who i was with or what the reaction was to the occurence. it's why often times when someone brings up a great sports moment my mind immediately goes to where i was and who i was with as it occurred.
  • SatansFutonSatansFuton Posts: 5,399
    That's like saying you shouldn't watch movies because if it doesn't win the Academy Award for best picture it's pointless. Sports is entertainment. Many people go to a game and think very little of the big picture, or how the season is unfolding, they just care about what is happening on that field on that day. And there is an even bigger picture than a season, and who is champion that year. Which is that years of disappointment make the eventual win all the more sweeter.
    "See a broad to get dat booty yak 'em, leg 'er down, a smack 'em yak 'em!"
  • cowboypjfancowboypjfan Posts: 2,451
    81 wrote:
    Sports radio is pretty tough to listen to at times with all of these idiots that are behind the mic.


    fixed.

    it's not even sports any more around here....it's like 10% sports, 50% blabbing about nothing, and 40% commericals.

    Hey, some of those commercials even include the host. How thoughtful of them to plug a product that usually sucks :lol:
  • Indifference71Indifference71 ChicagoPosts: 13,017
    81 wrote:
    Sports radio is pretty tough to listen to at times with all of these idiots that are behind the mic.


    fixed.

    it's not even sports any more around here....it's like 10% sports, 50% blabbing about nothing, and 40% commericals.


    Somewhat true. ESPN 1000 isn't too bad, but I have no idea how people can listen to all those douchebags that are on the score....Boers and Bernstein make me want to puke. They barely even talk about sports. The fact that they have the better ratings really makes me wonder about the people in this city.
    6/18/03, 5/17/06, 6/30/06, 8/5/07, 6/22/08, 8/23/09, 8/24/09, 5/7/10, 9/3/11, 9/4/11, 7/19/13, 11/21/13, 11/23/13, 11/24/13, 10/17/14, 10/20/14, 4/18/16, 4/20/16, 5/2/16, 5/3/16, 8/20/16, 8/22/16
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