Imagine having a tattoo that you hate. Now, I don’t mean a tattoo that came out badly and you are bummed out about. Nor do I mean an ill-advised name tattoo honoring a person that is long gone from your life. At least in those scenarios you went in loving the idea of the tattoo you were going to get. What I’m talking about is a tattoo that embodies something that you hate with all of your being—the dreaded sports bet tattoo.
An Oregon Ducks fan recently had to have the Ohio State Buckeyes logo tattooed on him as a result of losing a bet on the National Championship game. Anthony DeBellonia bet his friends, who happen to be Ohio State fans, that his beloved Ducks would be victorious. Now, in addition to feeling the sting of seeing his team lose that night he will have to be reminded of it every time he looks down at his thigh. For the rest of his life.
Even before the tattooist applied the stencil you know that DeBellonia hated the tattoo. How could he not? The only positive thing* he could possibly say about it is that the pain of the needle was probably far less excruciating than watching Ezekiel Elliott run roughshod over Oregon’s defense.
While it is well known how deeply people can love their favorite teams I argue that the hatred felt for rival teams and the pain from major losses is a far greater emotion. Victories can be fleeting. Since you want your team to win every year it’s hard to hang on to a championship won a few years in the past without thinking about the failure to repeat the feat. Even the biggest victories, like when the Red Sox won after 87 years of futility for example, will be forgotten in a few years. But a heartbreaking loss is remembered forever.
As a lifelong Red Sox fan I cannot imagine having a Yankees logo tattooed on me. My hatred for such a tattoo would be so visceral and fierce that I can't put it into words. I wouldn’t be surprised if I became physically ill every time I had to look at it. Every horrifying thing I associate with the Yankees would come to mind each time I saw the ink. Aaron Boone’s home run. Bucky Dent’s home run. Trading the Bambino. And I wasn’t even alive for the last two of those.
My heart goes out to DeBellonia. Having to be reminded of his team’s 42-20 loss every time he takes his pants off is a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Yet, at the same time you have to give the guy his props. He made the bet and did the honorable thing by following through and getting the ink. DeBellonia earns some extra style points for wearing all of his Duck gear for the tattoo session, he suffered his indignity with his head held high.
So, with the Super Bowl approaching all of you Patriots and Seahawks fans should reflect on the plight of Mr. DeBellonia for a couple of minutes before you make any bets. There’s nothing wrong with just betting some seafood or a couple of dead presidents, you don’t need to make your friend suffer for the rest of his life with a tattoo he hates. Although, on second thought, that sounds like fun. Let’s make some bets.
*We’re not saying that it’s a bad tattoo technically, because it isn’t. It looks great. The tattooist did his job and did his job well.