SHE SAID: Do I Care Too Much about Sports?

Do you care too much about sports … I might be the wrong person to ask.

Red Sox games in my house as a child were referred to as church, much to the chagrin of my religious mother.  I thought my parents were going to get a divorce when my mother entered the living room during the world series in 1986 and announced she was rooting for the Mets since they were the underdog.  My father, sitting maybe seven inches from the TV, gave her a look that could have started spontaneous fire were it directed upon something that wasn’t comprised of 70% water.

My younger brother learned to read not by stumbling over repetitive sentences about Spot, but by memorizing the sports section every morning.  He retained an impressive amount of information, and knew the fluctuating day to day stats on almost all baseball players.

Sports, when adored and scrutinized to this depth, becomes more than a game.  True fandom encompasses and realizes mathematics, sociology, psychology, art, philosophy, religion, economics … everything.

However, there is a fine line, pointed out to me recently.  It all started with the Bruins.  Game Seven.  2009 playoffs.

I’m going to blame my difficulty in swallowing this loss on my 4 year-old son.  He adores hockey and those of you who don’t know him, might think, oh cute.  But you don’t know my son.  When I say adores, I mean, he went to bed with all 300 of his hockey cards tonight.  Organized by team.  He also sleeps with his hockey sticks, plays hockey games with his lego men, his marbles, and his baseball cards, is constantly, and I mean constantly, quizzing me about which team I would root for in any theoretical match up on the ice, invites anyone who walks in the door to play floor hockey with him, has memorized almost the entire script of Miracle, will only wear shirts with numbers in case an impromptu game should arise, makes me announce hockey games while I’m brushing his teeth, pretend I’m Savard shooting at his mouth when I help him finish his dinner, and these things all happen many times a day every day.  Yes, it’s still cute, but it’s intense.

When I told him he could stay up to watch a play off game if he took a nap he dropped directly to the floor and was asleep within 5 seconds.  I thought he was faking, but he was still asleep on the floor three hours later.  And he stayed up to watch the whole game, the overtime, and ultimately, the losing goal.  I tucked him in and listened to him moaning for 45 minutes.  I felt responsible.  I had introduced him to fandom, Boston fandom, and I had broken his heart for the first time at four and a half.

crying fan

But don’t buy my story that the game was tough to watch because of his emotional investment in the Bruins.  The passion starts with me.  I took him to the games this winter, I set the Tivo to record every game, I personalized his jersey, taught him which player wore which number, the toe drag, the five hole …

And therein lies the fine line.  Caring, becoming attached, adoring – all fine.  Being upset after a loss – understandable. Being four and going to bed moaning after your gods get beaten in overtime – heart-wrenching to witness, but acceptable.  Drinking a handle of B&B and throwing up in your friend’s kitchen sink and at work all the following morning – funny as hell for your co-workers, and tolerable.  Not being able to talk on the phone, as I might have been after game seven of this year’s playoff series, starting a fight with another fan, crying in public (I didn’t do either of those) – not acceptable.

Considerable passion is not understood by all, not even by those who can appreciate athletics.  If you’re thinking you might care too much, that might be an indication that you’re flirting with disaster … but if you’re still able to enjoy the game, I have no answer.


One Response to SHE SAID: Do I Care Too Much about Sports?

  1. Sara says:

    My first instinct is to say, “Yes. That is too much. Too, too, too much. All of it. Every example you gave. Too much.” But see, you’ve got me, all the way over at the other end of the spectrum. I don’t care about sports AT ALL. I don’t want to watch it, I don’t care who wins and who loses, and frankly, while I suppose I can see how there might be fun in watching a sport you love, I have to admit that I just don’t GET being emotionally affected by the outcome. Look, I like (certain) reality TV, but while there’s usually some character or another I’m rooting for or against, I will not go to sleep particularly sad if my desired outcome does not occur.

    But really, who’s to say what’s too much? I mean, I guess if I were really pressed, I’d draw the line at becoming sick, violent, and/or unable to function as a result of your preferred team losing (or, worse, winning). And, I mean, I might get annoyed if the mood of someone I had to spend a lot of time with was that easily swayed by something they have absolutely no control over. My dad and brother, for instance, are huge Lakers fans. Maybe not so big as to get wasted when they lose important games, but they’ll definitely get down. Especially my dad. And I generally like to avoid him on these occasions. Not only is he less fun to be around, but I truly don’t understand it so it just kind of irritates me. I want to say, “But it has nothing to do with you.” We haven’t spent much time on the subject, but some day I may try to get him to explain why he’s so tied into it.

    So those are my thoughts. Ultimately, I have no problem with people who care a lot about sports, as long as their losses don’t ruin my day…like when they punch me in the face or puke on my desk.

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