WHETHER IT IS a spouse or a child or a pet or a sports team, the things we love most are the hardest to relinquish.
Betrayal and neglect, however, tend to make it easier.
And an increasing number of local sports fans feel they have been betrayed and neglected by the Raiders or the Warriors or both.
There are, if you care to listen, loud and wrenching screams from fans who have had enough. Their hearts are aching, their stomachs are turning, their voices are rising and, now, their wallets may be closing.
They're mad as hell. They don't want to give up, not yet, but they are looking for a way to fight back. They are on the Internet and on telephones proposing boycotts.
At least one has inquired about placing an ad in the newspaper.
Communication from fans around the Bay indicates the Raiders and Warriors are perilously close to the tipping point with their fans. There is considerable talk among ticket-buyers who are considering kicking their favorite teams directly in the pocketbook.
Rather than paying up and sitting in to witness the inferior product of stubbornly wayward franchises, these good and generally loyal fans are thinking about keeping their money and staying out.
Some already have, Warriors fans not renewing season tickets and Raiders fans tossing their tickets in the trash and staying home.
These folks are motivated partly by results — a Raiders team with the NFL's worst record since 2002 and a Warriors team with one playoff appearance in 15 years — but mostly by dysfunctional ownerships apparently deaf and blind to their own arrogance and ineptitude.
The Raiders once were a perennial powerhouse, a talented, cohesive mob functioning with the precision and panache of an elite military unit. They were thriving rebels, loved and hated and impossible to ignore.
But the empire began crumbling as owner Al Davis aged and fell victim to some of his self-destructive whims. In 1995, after going more than a decade without a Super Bowl title, Davis seemed to realize this and took action, including a return to Oakland, seeking a new energy and hoping to recapture his lofty status.
Not until Al hired Jon Gruden as head coach in 1998, a few years after installing Bruce Allen in the front office, did fortunes change, the Raiders in 2000 and '01 winning games in consecutive postseasons for the first time since Super Bowl 18 in January 1984.
After initially agreeing on a contract extension with Gruden after the '01 season, terms were adjusted, resulting in the coach being traded to Tampa Bay, where two years later he was joined by Allen.
In Allen's wake, the Raiders are 21-64 on the field — and an utter disaster from a football operations perspective. They are defined by the bizarre, by capricious decision-making, constant coaching turnover, puzzling player acquisitions, unproductive agendas and an infamous offseason spending spree that illustrated the depth of their delusions.
Oakland's football team might be the worst organization in major pro sports.
Yet any such debate would be incomplete without including Oakland's basketball team, the nondescriptly named G.S. Warriors.
Like the results of the Raiders, those of the Warriors are symptomatic of disease from above, namely silent owner Chris Cohan and his visible mouthpiece, team president Robert Rowell.
Cohan's Warriors peaked in 2007, reaching the playoffs and electrifying the Bay Area with a stunning first-round upset of top-seeded Dallas behind a roster assembled by general manager Chris Mullin.
Two years later, that roster has been disbanded, Mullin was unceremoniously ousted, and the Warriors are in the midst of perhaps their most ruinously convulsive preseason. There is enough disunity in the air to smother any hint of optimism.
The tiniest whiff of prosperity was, in these cases, a lethal poison.
A significant difference between the owners is that Davis once wore a crown and knows of the contentment of sustained success.
A significant similarity is that their pursuit of solutions has been hijacked by egotism or incompetence or both. Davis and Cohan are pushing away their most loyal fans, some of whom used to stridently defend the indefensible, surely out of love.
Now they long for new owners because they no longer see any other way out, and they are threatening to send messages bound to be heard by those in charge.
Can't say I blame 'em.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.