Last week I drove to Logan, Utah, to watch my college alma mater, the Utah State Aggies, take on it's conference rival, the Nevada Wolf Pack. Along with 10,000+ screaming and clapping fans, I anxiously held my breath as we won a very tight game. And it was there, with those 10,000 fans, screaming and clapping like I was still in college, that I had a horrifying thought: "Am I turning into one of those guys?"
You know the guy I'm talking about. He's over forty, balding, and pot-bellied, but still wears his college hoodie like a badge of pride, as if the athletic accomplishments of his favorite academic institution give his life meaning. He yells at refs, scowls at opposing fans, and spends most of the game on his feet, regardless of the little kids behind him who can't see.
The day after a game, his voice is hoarse from the yelling, his back aches because of the plastic chair that would be better suited for a toddler, and he's grouchy as hell because his team lost. He yearns for the days of coach so-and-so, and for that great player with so many wins who would have gone pro if he hadn't been busted for smoking weed.
Thankfully, I'm nowhere near this bad. But, it occurred to me, as a co-worker made fun of my Utah State t-shirt on game day, that men have a strange way of getting all tangled up into sports. I thought of this again when, with a tie score and only seconds to play, one of our players was fouled and went to shoot his free throws. At that moment, I was nearly as anxious as I would be on a first date or a job interview. I had to ask, why do I do this to myself? Why do I subject myself to such emotions when the outcome is completely outside of my control?
Sports fanaticism is one of the cruelest forms to masochism I can think of. It's like being in love with a girl who you know will break your heart at least once or twice a year. And it's not just a "I'm not really into you" kind of break up, but a grinding, decimating, sob-ridden break up that sucks your will to live. And yet, you come back, season after season, only to be body slammed into the mat again.
You may think that I'm being over dramatic, but every team looses. It's inevitable; it's the nature of sports. It's actually one of the great things that children can learn from sports-- how to lose gracefully. Of course, if you're one that is grief stricken and wrought with torment when "your team" loses, it's probably fair to say you missed out on that lesson.