[thoughts after watching my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers lose Super Bowl XLV last nite]
it's not to say that watching and/or rooting for one's favorite competitive sports team isn't stressful. it is, or it can be. but not stressful in the same way that sticking to a budget is stressful or driving on icy roads is stressful.
but competitive sports - at any level - certainly will bring pressure beyond measure to one's life - and i'm only speaking from a spectators perspective.
but if i were to think about how much time i've spent watching and rooting for my favorite teams - it would no doubt boggle my mind. much of that time was spent enjoying the sport and enjoying the moment. but when it all comes to the end - something else generally rears it's ugly head: a hard truth that competitive sport will inevitably bring... disappointment.
the biggest challenge to Joe Spectator is that no matter what, only one team wins. which means almost everyone, at some point, will be let down.
there are 32 teams in NFL. only one wins the Super Bowl. that leaves 31 teams and fans disappointed. some are so used to the disappointment that they wallow in it (hello, Cleveland Browns fans?)
there are 119 Division 1 collegiate football programs. only one wins the national championship. that leaves the majority of the people disappointed. more so because some might argue there is no equality when it comes to getting to the national title game, let alone winning it.
Baseball has 30 professional teams - but at least disappointed fans can revel in rooting against the Yankees. so we've got that going for us. which is nice.
oh the dismay of sports. it happens on every level. ever been to a soccer game for 7 and 8 year olds? listen to the parents on the sidelines and you'd think it was the World Cup (minus the Vuvuzelas).
why do we do this to ourselves? we are crazy for sports... it rules us. it kills us. sometimes almost literally. i remember 5 years ago when the Steelers made an improbable run to the Super Bowl. During the divisional playoff game against Indianapolis, with the Steelers up by 3 points, Jerome Bettis attempted to run in for a game-clinching touchdown (that would put Pittsburgh up by 10 points) when the ball was knocked away and fumbled. the Colts picked it up and nearly ran it 99 yards the other way for what would have been their game winning score. When the fumble occurred, some guy in Pittsburgh, watching on his bar stool at his favorite watering hole, fell to the floor and nearly died of a heart attack.
Sports kills us. heck, even the first marathon runner died after completing his task.
and although most people don't literally die after seeing their team lose - it does seem to take a little piece of our soul away. no matter what, the losers experience... loss. so in that way, it is kind of like a death to a part of our self.
but then the cycle begins a new. we wake up and we wake up and after a few days or even weeks of 'mourning' we sports fans rise up - ready to embrace the next challenge or the next season of competitive recreation. as the old adage goes: "there's always next year!"
and then next year comes... and disappointment comes... and we are let down all over again.
but at the heart of every sports fan is something special. something no one can take away... HOPE. hope for the future. hope for our team.
and as long as there's hope, there's a chance.
"so you're telling me there's a chance..... YEAH!"
and that is what makes sports beautiful. and that is what makes us keep watching and rooting. because you never know when your team might just make it and win it all. or maybe it's self-deprecating and we really just love the pain.
i don't know. ask me in a few days or weeks. by then i'll be thinking about next year.