It is the most wonderful time of the year. Yeah the “real” holidays are nice but you can’t beat October for excitement. The NFL is in full mid season swing, the NHL is off to another exciting start; the MLB even has the potential for an exciting, if not historic, playoffs. The NBA is about to start up again, college football is in the meat of conference play, international soccer is at its best. With a month like this, who needs Christmas?
However, as much as this is a time of joy and jubilation for many, it can also be a time of deep pain. Think of poor Justin Bacon. His New York football Giants are off to an abysmal start. Vic, a member of the Dallas Cowboys faithful, has had to deal with both the elation and despair of having the dynamic Tony Romo as his QB. And despite the expectations and dreams of so many here in the area, the Washington National Football team’s intrepid Quarterback, Crown Prince and Lord of D.C., Robert Griffin III has yet to show the same spark as last year. To paraphrase the Batman villain Bane, “There can be no true despair without hope”.
Like many of you I once let my heart fall like cold, mid October rain every time my team would have a last minute collapse. Mondays would be ruined by the memories of a Sunday afternoon trouncing. All week I would be riddled by the anxiety. Would we win? Could we win? Should we win? The elation of a potential victory, and the inevitable crushing disappointment of defeat.
However, for the last few years, I haven’t been struggling with the ups and downs of being a passionate fan. I am, a sports atheist, or actually more of an agnostic. Its not that I don’t enjoy sports, in fact I love them. All of them. I follow sports pretty in depth from college football to English soccer. There is nothing better than a good game, two great teams going toe to toe, two great athletes pushing each other to the limits of their athletic abilities; sport still represents the best that humanity has to offer.
That being said, why get hung up on following a single team? I grew up as a Dallas Cowboys fan (my mom’s from Texas, I was indoctrinated, its okay), But I always loved players on the Redskins. I grew up learning to run like Fred Davis, always driving my feet. I idolized hitters like LaVar Arrington and the late Sean Taylor. Playing tight end in High School, Chris Cooley was an ever present example of how to play the game. More that rooting for any team, I found myself rooting for players, not because of any Fantasy Football league, but because I simply loved watching great players play.
I think that sports secularism is the final hope for many long haunted by the failures of the teams for whom we’ve given the best years of our lives. Already our alliances are fractured by our growing obsession with fantasy sports. No longer are we raised in homogenous sports cultures either. D.C. has as many as many Washington fans as Dallas fans. Yankee’s fans are inescapable no matter where you go. Only in truly small market area’s like Green Bay or Pittsburg do you see the universal support of a single team.
I get why so many of us live and die for our teams. There is nothing like watching your team succeed. When Boston won its first World Series since 1918 in 2004 it was as if an entire city, an entire region had been liberated from a hopelessness imposed on them by the great Bambino so many decades before. I understand the power of cheering your team on from a thousand miles away, the sensation of being part of a zeitgeist that permeates all other views someone might hold. Sports truly do bring people together.
But for me I’ve had enough. I’d much rather enjoy every team for it’s own merits, every game for it’s excitement, every win or loss as just another statistic floating off into the ether. It’s not for everyone, but if you’ve had too much pain to handle because of the teams that you love the most, maybe sports secularism is for you too.
Workout of the Day
Wall Balls (20/14)
Post your scores to the Whiteboard.