I love watching sports
And since you’re reading this, I bet you do too. My love stems from my inability to control the outcome. Sure, there are days I’m convinced if I don’t toss my Q-tip into the trash on the first try the Patriots will lose. And yes, I wore the same t-shirt throughout October, 2013 to ensure the Red Sox won the World Series (it worked). For the most part though, I love sports for the escapism. By putting on a game I can just sit back, relax and hope for the best. Q-tips and t-shirts aside, I can’t impact the outcome even if I wanted to.
This is drastically different from the decision-making my daily life requires. Do I pack my lunch, or buy an $11 salad that should really cost $2.50? Should I push myself to hit the gym after work, or do I binge something on Netflix? I am constantly making decisions that stack up and define me. At some point we all agreed to call that “adulting”, and it ain’t easy (shout out, Big Daddy Kane).
Like most sports fans, I didn’t choose which teams I would root for*. I just so happened to grow up outside of Boston, so my favorite socks became red and the only Giants I’ll ever like are the little ones. There is something freeing about major life choices like that being determined for me.
*Note: Being born into fandom does not apply to fans of LeBron James, who have already changed their NBA allegiance from CLE → MIA → CLE → LA (I think we can just call the LA move now).
It’s comforting to know at the end of a long day I can go home, turn on Monday Night Football and relax. In a world where I am forced to plan for the future and make so many choices, sports allow me to be truly present. And when I’m attending a game? There’s nothing better.
My Origin Story
As a kid, I remember going to a day game at Fenway with my dad in the spring of ‘98. It was that first game I can really remember, and it was life changing. When I walked up the concrete ramp to field level and saw the Green Monster towering above the too-green-to-be-real grass, I felt like I just walked into the best amusement park in the world. My dad and I went up to our seats, ate our Italian sausages (topped with onions and sautéed peppers, obviously) and took in the game. It was an afternoon fit for a Norman Rockwell painting.
It was amazing, until sports taught me my first life lesson: don’t leave before it’s over. The Red Sox went into the 7th down by one run and I was ready to go home. I had experienced the high of being at Fenway, so I didn’t think there was anything else I could want. My dad took my not so subtle hints and we left early. I also don’t think he expected much of a comeback with Randy Johnson on the mound.
Because I made us leave, we missed the Sox stage one of the best 9th inning comebacks ever. One that was capped off by Mo Vaughn hitting a walk off grand slam to the left of Pesky’s Pole. Based on the video, it was awesome. I was inconsolable when we found out what happened. At that moment, I couldn’t put my 9-year-old finger on what was making me so mad. But I get it now.
The Rush of a Win
Somewhere deep down, I knew I had missed out on one of the best feelings sports can provide: the thrill of a victory that you just had to hope for. The rush of a win that you didn’t cause, but you got to experience. You sat there, prayed and watched. For most fans, especially Browns fans, the ending doesn’t turn out to be a positive one. But sometimes, when you’re really lucky, you get to celebrate an unlikely victory with your fellow fans.
I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since. Thankfully, I won the fandom lottery and get to experience that thrill of victory more often than most. As crazy as it sounds, or as spoiled, all those championship parades through the streets of Boston aren’t enough. I’m always looking for another opportunity to get a win.
It’s why I played in four fantasy football leagues this year and patted myself on the back for displaying self-control. It’s why I bet on sports, so I can celebrate hitting a five game parlay. And it’s why you can always find me watching the most meaningless college bowl games (The Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, anyone?), because I get to randomly pick a team and become their biggest fan for an afternoon.
So here’s to you, my fellow sports fanatics. Here’s to those of us that are brave enough to take our emotions, entrust them with athletes that will never know our first name, and hope for the best. Here’s to our next win.