By Mark Nagi
I love sports. I’ve always loved sports. I love playing sports but knew from an early age that I wouldn’t be a pro athlete. But watching sports has given me some of my fondest memories.
One of the best days of my life happened in April 1981 when my Dad took me to Yankee Stadium for the first time. The Yankees beat Texas 5-1. Rudy May got the win.
In 1994, the NY Rangers snapped a 54-year title drought, winning the Stanley Cup. I had just graduated from SUNY Geneseo, was nervous about the future, and took that as a sign that life was going to be ok.
In 1999 I used all my frequent flyer miles and spent money I certainly didn’t have to fly to Arizona to watch the Vols win their first consensus national championship in 47 years.
That’s the good.
In 1982 I saw Dwight Clark catch Joe Montana’s prayer of a pass to beat Dallas in the NFC championship. I was nine years old. I cried all night. I went to school the next day and as the only Cowboys fan in my class, I got ripped on and cried again.
In 1983 my Dad took me back to Yankee Stadium to see the Yankees face the White Sox. Ron Guidry vs. Tom Seaver. We got all the way to The Bronx… and the heavens opened. After three hours they gave up and called the game. It was a sad three-hour car ride home.
That’s the bad.
I can give you more examples of the good and the bad. I’m sure that you have your own. Maybe even some recent ones.
Last weekend I saw my NY Rangers lose in Game Six of the NHL’s Eastern Conference Finals, and the next day the spectacular season for the Vols baseball team came to a shocking end in the Super Regionals against Notre Dame.
During those games, I couldn’t help but ask myself… why do we care so much about sports? I mean, the odds are that you never played at a pro or high college level. You probably don’t know anyone that plays on the teams you root for.
I am sure we can rationalize it. Those teams give us a sense of belonging. It’s a shared experience when our teams are playing. It gives us something to talk about with family, with friends, in the office…
But at the end of the day… aren’t we just rooting for laundry? I mean, the names change, the athletes and coaches change… heck sometimes the teams even just pick up and move away.
This spring I was on pins and needles watching my adopted soccer team, Tottenham Hotspur, fight for a Top 4 spot in the Premier League and the Champions League riches that go along with it. Tottenham rallied to achieve that lofty status, and I was pleased for days and days.
Keep in mind I’ve been to London once in my life and seen Tottenham play in person exactly one time. I have no real connection to the team other than as a spectator for a couple of hours on a rainy Saturday in England some 22 and a half years ago.
Why on earth should the result of a game thousands of miles away have any true effect on my mood, my outlook on life?
I wish I had some profound answer to the question I posed you, the good reader.
Being a sports fan isn’t rational. It just isn’t.
But that’s not going to stop us from that existence.