Sports are one of those things that have never appealed to me, on a level that others seem to. I can appreciate the talent and dedication these people have and the standard of life that they have to maintain, but it has never interested me to sit for hours on end and watch two teams thrash it out. (The Blackhawks are a very notable exception to that statement, for obvious reasons.)
And, in honor of The Cubs' opening day, I have decided to produce this little offering for all the masses who adore sports.
But the mind of the sports fan is something that has always interested me. These people, year after year, stick by these teams and become just as emotionally-invested as they were the year before and the year before that. Sports memorabilia is passed down through generations as solemnly as family photos and grandpa's ashes. People have their phones constantly plugged in to check the score of the game and bars are filled to capacity on nights where the latest bout will be showcased.
I'm going to break down the philosophy of the sports fan into two categories: The sports fan at home and the sports fan at a game. For reasons that you might guess, the sense of life and ideals behind each of those two distinctions is very much an issue to discuss. I also will not be delineating between different types of sports, as this post can only cover so much ground.
The sports fan at home is usually the more placid of the two, but that isn't always the case. I've seen normally civilized people go incredibly bats while watching the game on TV, some even go so far as to smash their TVs or other valuable items if their team loses. Their passion, which is either a selling-point or a downfall, is more tepid than someone at an actual event, if only because they're not surround by thousands of possibly belligerent spectators. These people love what they're watching and devour every second of the heated action. Some events, like the Superbowl, can even justify entire parties with attendance and refreshments the likes of which are only equaled at Bar Mitzvahs or Papal Inaugurations. These people are creative and have a brilliant sense of what makes for good drama. I've always seen sports as rather beautiful plays that go on simply a bit too long, like Wagner. The person watching sports at home is a person who knows what they're comfortable with and would rather watch in the comfort of their own abode, rather than brave the tundra that is the sports stadium.
The sports fan that goes to the game is a breed all their own. You need to have a strong constitution and a lot of patience if you are actually going to trek to a game. And, once you get past the crabby ticket-takers, surly vendors and half-drunk hallway loiterers waiting for their thirty seconds in the grimy bathroom, you are crammed into seats smaller than those you find on those glorious inventions known as airplanes. It's a wildcard who you're seated next to, as well. You could get grandma Helen who is knitting, half-asleep, while the game is gaining momentum, or you can get Big Dave, who smells like a mixture of expired pork, flat beer and old sweatbands and yells like Ethel Merman sitting on a thumbtack. This fan is dedicated to the idea of competition and loves to be close enough to see the grit, grime and bloodshed that only a live sports event can provide. Sadly, there are a lot of people who spoil the experience for the casual sports fan, belligerent drunks who literally get into violent fights and cuss like sailors. But, if you can tolerate the company of both hardcore and polite fans, you will find an experience like no other.
As a friend of the sports community, I speak these words with the best intentions. I am a babe-in-the-woods when it comes to sports and I do enjoy them, to an extent. But I applaud those who have dedicated their lives to something that brings joy to millions. There is a beautiful balance in sports, the juxtapositions of blood and sweat and flawless victory is unequaled in any other pastime.
The philosophy of a sports fan is the magnification of a beautiful ideal: The idea that competition is what drives us and dedication is the seal of man.