Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Or, if you want to get all grammatical about it, For Whom Do You Root?
The question concerns sports, so some of you are tuning me out even as you read this sentence. That's OK. Your lives are not as rich as mine, so I won't berate you in a way that will make you even more miserable than you already are. When you totally dismiss sports, you've made a conscious choice to not enjoy some of the most thrilling theater available. If you prefer less excitement in your life - perhaps you have a heart condition that precludes such adrenalin rushes? - then I won't be the one to suggest that you might enjoy what would kill you, you pansy.
Really, why anyone wouldn't enjoy sports is beyond me. It usually conforms to many of the same strictures as classical theater, in that it consists of predetermined segments (acts) with well-known rules (for theater, the major one is that the audience shouldn't usually talk to the actors, unless an actor specifically asks an audience member to speak, but, in sports, you can yell out anything you want to the paid participants, although it's best to remember that the other ticket holders can always yell at you, too.) It's even better than theater since the ending is unknown and improvised, which you certainly can't say about a performance of Romeo & Juliet.
Anyway, you either like sports or you're calling me an idiot, so let's move on.
Integral to much of the enjoyment of sports is the cheering of one side or the other, or - if not a team sport - cheering an individual performer. Games or matches can be enjoyed on a purely aesthetic level, but true happiness or despair only surfaces when you're willing to invest passion on the outcome.
(Or money, of course, but let's not get sidetracked into discussions concerning gambling. That's a whole 'nother subject.)
The fan who has cheered for his or her team for forty years, without seeing them win a championship, has an emotional investment that pales beside all else. Maybe marriage means more, perhaps kids, but maybe not. When the Red Sox finally won The World Series in 2004, after 86 years of NOT winning it, there were fans who declared, "Now I can die in peace!" And, surprisingly, whole bunches of them did just that, too. Their survivors might even have engraved something about it onto their headstones, and there would be few here in New England who would think it strange enough to laugh about, believe me.
I've written, at length, concerning some of my own allegiances. Chief among them are the Boston Celtics, the Boston Red Sox, and the New England Patriots (in that order, too, if you're wondering.) I've also found great joy in cheering on some individual performers, such as Doug Flutie or Steve DeBerg, no matter what team they may have been playing for at any given time.
(For my friends who love hockey, let me say that I enjoy it. Of the four major North American sports, I've played it more than any other outside of baseball. And I do follow the Boston Bruins. At one time, I was a fervent fan. Hockey lost any chance of my remaining a fanatic when there was the lockout in 2004 resulting in the season not being played at all. Combined with the general recent futility of the Bruins franchise, and my love for the Celtics, who play during more-or-less the same times during the year, I found that I did not greatly miss hockey, and it has never regained my allegiance in any way approaching what it was during my younger years. And I don't expect it ever will. Great sport, fast and exciting, but my heart is no longer broken when the B's lose.)
So, if you wanted to read about those whom I like, I gave you references above, and links, and I'll assume you've either done so or have no intention of doing so. What I want to know, though, is what teams or individuals YOU root for? Who are your faves, and why? What influenced your choices? Tell me anything that you want to get off of your chest. I'll listen, even if you're (*shudder*) a Lakers fan. And then, later this week, I'll be back to muse upon your musings, if you don't mind.
Soon, with your better stuff.
[Pic at the top from The Situationist.]