Search Box

Friday, March 30, 2012

On being a sports fan

A friend, Dave Moriarty, like me, has never outgrown his chosen sport (in his case, baseball). I asked yesterday if he'd heard about a certain older player who had just been signed by a major league team, and he said yes. I said that I should have realized he'd be way ahead of me on that one.

He replied:

The truth is, I don't follow the major leagues as avidly as you might guess. I rarely watch games on TV. I read some newspaper articles, mostly highlights, but don't pore over box scores. So it's a pretty shallow pool I swim in (I figure you can relate to that metaphor.)

I'm more interested in my own playing than that of a bunch of people I'll never meet. I do get to one or two games a season, but it's either a social occasion or with Shea as a father son bonding experience.

I peek at Yahoo Sports to stay somewhat abreast, but there are plenty of people -- these fantasy players in particular -- who absorb every piece of information they can. There are many teams I couldn't name a single player on, and that's fine with me.

I'd like to say I have Dave's healthy attitude. But I don't -- I'm more like one of those fantasy baseball players. I pore over swimming results with great relish, marvel at outstanding performances, and try to figure out who's going to win at the Olympics this summer. I follow swimming as obsessively as some follow the stock market, or the Presidential election, or other things that actually matter.

I know I'm not alone in this. There are legions of fans who follow their sports fanatically. ("Fanatic" is the root of the word "fan.") I'm not one of those who identify with and root for certain athletes or teams; but I do know an embarrassing amount about them.

It's almost as if I have no choice in the matter. I suppose I could go cold turkey. But I won't, since it's not a matter or life or death.

If anyone does know of a cure for this disease, though, please let me know. I'm sure I'd be better off not wasting the time I do being a fan(atic).


Brian Fradet said...

Hi John,

You raise, for me, the existential question of my life--why I can't get baseball and tennis out of my head.. 2 human dynamics come to mind around this. The first is that, because life in general is a game--in that we really don't know for sure how things will ultimately turn out. How long will I live. What's my next career. Will something good or bad happen to my kids. Will I become fabulously wealthy, or homeless. Will I move to China. Become the next hot blogger, etc. In the case of a sports game, like a movie, we never really know how it will turn out--but unlike our life, the game's over in an hour or 2. So it's fun to watch--and notice how boring it is to watch a rerun that you already know the outcome of. Secondly, what I really think is happening here (with me anyway) is that my life is simply not interesting enough-or I don't know my true purpose. I would make the world a better place if I was intensely excited about my own life rather than focusing on how great Roger Federer is, or any other super star. Great post! Brian

John Craig said...

Thanks Brian. I can't figure out what the evolutionary purpose is of getting so fixated on a sport, but it's actually fairly common among men. Maybe back in the old days if we had gotten fixated on hunting or gathering or something similar, it would have enhanced out chances of survival. Maybe a young boy who saw spearing wild boar as man's highest, most glorious achievement would have been able to more successfully pass his genes along to the next generation. As of yet, I haven't figured out how thinking that swimming is the most glorious thing a man can do has helped me genetically.