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Losing makes winning better

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You all know that the Colorado Avalanche are my favorite sports team. A lot of you also know that I have a second favorite team: the New England Patriots. I know that few of you share in that love of the Pats - heck, I'm guessing there's more than a small minority that was really, really happy to see them lose last night. Regardless of your affiliation, though, you know what I'm going through.

Every sports fan is going to endure disappointment at some point. No team in any sport is going to win every year. The New York Yankees are the most successful franchise in North America, and they've won just 26 titles in the last 100 years or so. Most teams don't even come close to winning it all every four years or so, and many teams haven't ever tasted championship victory like the Giants are enjoying today.

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Obviously, I was bitterly disappointed to see the Patriots lose. I wasn't as surprised as some were - I picked the Giants to go the Super Bowl after that Week 17 game - but that doesn't really deaden the pain much. My favorite football team was just a few big plays away from football immortality. Instead, they'll be looked on as one of the biggest disappointments in NFL history. It was hard to watch and even harder to comprehend. My wife kept muttering that maybe if we rewound the Tivo and played it again, we'd see the "right" outcome and I knew exactly what she meant. Did our team really just lose like that?

But here's the great thing about sports. As hard as that loss was to swallow, it's necessary. Quite simply, the bitter taste of losing is what makes winning taste so sweet. At some point - perhaps even next year - the Patriots will win it all again. And when (if?) they do, it'll be bad memories such as this one that make the win all that more enjoyable. You have to endure the bad times in order for you to appreciate the good times.

When the Avalanche lost to Dallas in 2000 (damn those Ray Bourque shots off the posts), I was crushed. The following year, the Cup run, was one of the most stressful stretches of my life. In the end, it worked out okay; Ray got to raise the Cup and it was all the more satisfying due to the heartbreaking failure of the previous season. Since then, it's been mostly disappointment for Avalanche fans. We've got the Statue of Liberty series against Detroit, complete with a blowout game to end our season. There was the shocking loss to the Wild (thanks, Andrew Brunette), the sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks and, of course, last season's heroic regular season run that came up just a little too short. All have been difficult to endure, some more than others. In the end, though, that's going to make the next Cup win, when and if it happens, all the more satisfying.