Why Do We Care About Sports?

September 12, 2012

Football, Hockey, NBA

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being a fan is an exercise in masochism. Far more often than not, fans of any one team will experience heart-break and let down far more than they experience moments of joy and triumph. To those on the outside looking in, being a sports fan is insane. I’ve been told by friends that they don’t care for sports because it’s pointless; a waste of time, energy, and money. I’ve also been asked why I continue to support my teams when they do nothing but let me down.  Surely there are better things that could be done with our time, right?  Right as they may be sometimes, they just don’t understand.

Just like anything else in life, a few bad apples ruin it for the rest of the bunch.  The drunk idiot yelling slurs at a player or fellow fan gives the perception that the whole group is idiotic, as do the two dipshits fighting each other over a which team’s quarterback sucks more. Not to mention the ones who take this all just a touch too seriously, taking the loss home with them and acting like an angry dick to everyone they come in contact with.  And maybe worst of all is the bandwagon fan.  The douchebag who jumps from team to team just trying OH SO HARD to fit in and attach themselves to success so that they can enjoy that feeling somewhere in life.

But the majority, or at least I’d like to believe it’s the majority, of fans care without bordering on the psychopathic.  Why do we care? Believe it or not, there are many sane and logical reasons for this.  I can’t speak for everyone else but I don’t root for my team as some weird way of living vicariously through them to make up for my own failures though I know there are PLENTY of people who do such a thing (often with their own children in the athlete role).

No, I find myself rooting for my team for cheesy, sappy reasons.  For example: when I moved out a few years ago (late bloomer, I know), my dad was going through hard times and the two of us grew closer.  But since I wasn’t just hanging around the house anymore and both of our schedules were busy, it became more difficult to see each other. Solution? Buffalo Bills and Sabres games. Granted, with 82 Sabres games, a few were missed but we made it a point to get together to watch as many as possible.  He’d make or pick up dinner and we would watch the game, discuss things we’d noticed during the game, and just generally shoot the shit. Ditto for Bills games. It gives us something to look forward to during the week and a time where we can just relax and enjoy the game while spending quality time with each other. Father/son bonding at its finest.

Another personal example I have is that my girlfriend and I, who have been dating for a few months now, plan to attend Cleveland Cavaliers games as sort of our “thing”.  It gives us something to do and something to share.  Hopefully, we can look back with many fond memories that we may not have had without sports as a vehicle.

Not to mention the fact that even if you don’t share sports with someone close to you, there is the sense of comradery and unity you share with anyone who supports your teams.  I can’t be the only one who’s been out in public, seen someone wearing the apparel of my favorite team, and had to fight the urge to yell “GO ____!” at them like a Neanderthal. Just knowing someone else out there shares a common interest and, when you root for a team that sucks, the pain that you experience in caring for a team can be reassuring. Weird but reassuring.

And don’t even get me started on the number of people who have played sports because they started out as young fans.  Would I have played hockey had my aunt not taken me to Sabres games at the old Memorial Auditorium? Maybe but probably far less likely. If it weren’t for the time I spent playing (because I was a fan) I may have never met my best friend, missing out on many chances to say inappropriate things that might not make anyone else laugh.

“Okay but why do fans get so upset?” you may find yourself asking, non-sports fan. The irrational morons get upset because they have nothing else going on. They are invested so deeply because they’re either drunk and emotional or their lives suck so bad that this is all they have. For the level-headed fans (like me), we get upset but not so much so that it affects the rest of our lives. You invest time in your favorite teams and players, rooting for them to succeed so it hurts to see them fail. Especially when you root for a team or teams that fail ALL THE TIME (Buffalo, wooo!).  You ride the emotional rollercoaster with the team, sharing in its highs and lows (albeit from much further away). Seeing your team win a championship makes it feel like all that time you invested was worth it and not just a colossal waste.

So to you, non-sports fan, I say that being a sports fan makes plenty of sense.  And without sports in my life, I’d probably have to cultivate my relationships some other way that is infinitely more boring. I’ll take the pain and suffering any day.

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