Wednesday, January 5, 2011


It's a puzzlement, really, sometimes.

Everything is going along smoothly and then BAM! you're gob-smacked and reeling and you don't know what to do.  You're pulled one way, and you make your peace with it.  You see the reality for what it is and take a deep breath and move on.  Wake up in the morning and go on about your business and POW! there it is again, rearing its ugly head and snarling at you.

What's a person to do?

It's not only in the realm of personal relationships that this occurs.  We all have our own versions of the story and I'll let you fill in your own blanks today.  It's also true in the world of sports.

I've been thinking about Nance's comment on yesterday's post, reprinted here for those of you un-inclined to click back and find it:
The real stories in sports are the interpersonal stories based on the usual human depravities...on steroids. Games, optional. 
She has a  point there.  For most of us, the casual fan, the occasional wearer of team colors, who the players are is at least as important as what they do.  But for the die-hard follower, every call, every play, every in-bounds pass is fraught with meaning.  The glow of sweat on the coach's brow is analyzed and compared to other damp moments in similar situations.  Nothing is left to chance.  The team needs his undivided attention and he is more than willing to make the donation.

When they are winning, everything is roses.  Playing ranked teams on the road and winning puts a smile on the face of the unsuspecting fan and then BAM! there's a conference opponent who mops the floor with your sorry performance and suddenly he's exploring the caverns in the depths of despair.  A few wins later the fan begins to regain confidence in his boys, those talented teens who POW! break his heart with such regularity.

And yet he continues to cheer, to care, to dream of greater things ahead.  He doesn't make excuses, he doesn't try to downplay their flaws, because they are his, warts and all.

His football season was a study in misery, of lost opportunities and dashed expectations.  Loved him as a player, hate him as a coach was his mantra, and by the middle of the year he viewed every win as an attempt to spoil their chance at a #1 draft pick...... something you get by losing a lot, it seems.  He'd spent the pre-season in a generally optimistic frame of mind and wore his team jersey with pride and the POW! the regular season started and he was depressed.  It didn't help that his friends preyed on his misery, either. 

What is it about us as humans that lets us rise up again in the face of adversity, that tells us that we will be okay, that the boys will get it together, that the foolishness will stop?  Not everyone is blessed with the resilience to endure, it's true.  But you will not find a real sports fan who does not epitomize the trait. 


  1. And you make an excellent point too. Zero-sum games fascinate us; we're often engaging in them at work, only to come home and conjure another one up for our entertainment. I grew up a red dust-coated bleacher brat, watching my father and uncles play softball and baseball. I remember the thrill of ACC basketball, live, throughout my adolescence. And golf, of course...always golf...with a PGA course within walking distance.

    Chiefly, though, my excitement would come of knowing at least some of the players. I never "had a team" unless it was Duke or Carolina or NC State in Final Four basketball--schools I knew personally. I've never been able to transfer those identifications to pro ball, even when familiar players were involved.

    Golfers, though...I can get attached to pro golfers. They have individual personalities, idiosyncratic styles. They have families who show up and hug them after the game. And the courses vary, although they are invariably beautiful, whereas every basketball court or football field looks pretty much the same.

    And there's a sports culture that's missing from my nuclear family. Not one of us thinks to turn on a game of any sort, unless it's taking place at Augusta National or we are waiting for Sixty Minutes to finally start. There's no bonding that has taken place around a game other than golf.

    I do acknowledge, though, that the concept of team effort is gripping, underdogs are beloved, heroes are needed. And who doesn't love phoenix moments? Still, I have a lasting association of football with the recording Andy Griffith made:
    What It Was, Was Football ;-)

  2. Sports didn't figure into my family of origin, either, tho I was a Yankee fan when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's record (of course!)and a Knicks fan when my sister was rabid about it. TBG brought sports to my life and tho it sometimes feels as if that is all we watch, I am not sorry for the window into that world which he provided.

    I'd never heard the Andy Griffith story before.... thanks for sharing:)


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