Broken or Relieved
I don’t remember when I first started loving sports. I do remember my father watching a great deal of them on Television and since from my earliest memories, I wanted to be just like him, that is most likely the origin. Like many small children, I found it much more entertaining to play imaginary games in my head rather than watch the actual, way too long, too hard to understand, ultimately boring games on television. I could stomach a few plays here or there, especially near the end of games when, even at a very young age, I could feel the intensity of the crowds as close battles resolved themselves.
Strange enough (to those that know me), the first “team” I connected with was the BYU football team. My Aunt attended school there and she gave me a few shirts which I wore with pride. I also remember spending a night on campus with her (and most likely some roommates). I watched a few quarters of BYU football and I remember catching the very end of a BYU vs Utah game where the Cougars destroyed the Utes by 30 points. I gleefully pointed this out to my father, who was an avid Ute supporter. He handled it better than I would have, with a smile and some silence.
This love of all things BYU faded as I reached my pre-teen years and identified with almost everything my father liked and did. It was at this time I started reading avidly, fell in love with music and wanted to become a History Teacher (which is what my father studied to become, though he ended up working for social services). It didn’t take me long to find a passion for all University of Utah sports as well as most of the professional sports teams my father exposed me to (though I never did find any affection for his beloved White Sox).
This passion for sports continued through my teen years when I submerged myself in basketball, playing one year on the high school team and taking every opportunity to play with friends or family and even complete strangers. I found a love for tennis and football as well, though I was never big enough or dedicated enough to play football with any real ability.
As I have aged, my skills have done what everybody’s do. I feel older and it shows when I try to do things that used to be easy. My love of watching sports however, has increased. Weekends during football season are wonderful. When I can, I watch as many college games on Saturday and NFL games on Sunday as I am able. I have my favorite teams (which are not the ones my father likes anymore) and I live and die by their performances. I can’t count the number of times I have watched the Utes football team play and thought after a loss, “That’s it, I am never watching sports again. It takes too much energy out of me, makes unimportant things important”, then turned the TV on the next Saturday.
What is it about sports that is so appealing? When I try to distance myself from attachments to certain organizations (which is really hard for me), I understand that I thrive on the possibility of success or failure, victory or defeat, the competition of the event. Much more often than not, my particular choice of team is not going to win championships. If you follow a team that wins more than half the time, you are doing well.
Putting that organizational connection back in the equation, I love the feeling of being in a group of strangers feeling and wanting the same outcome. That sense of camaraderie that comes out of attending a live sporting event is addicting. Even in the losses, looking around the arena or stadium, you feel connected to these people as you endure a similar event, one that really has no bearing on the rest of your life, but still feels important.
I do wish I cared less for sports though. I get way too broken by the defeats and the wins seem more like relief than joyous. But that’s how most things are in life. The failures always set us back more than our successes. It is how I feel when I come up short on anything: a piece of writing, a bike ride, almost any goal. I would love to hear any thoughts on this idea in particular.