Supporting a loser will make you love sport
A friend of mine got into a rather heated discussion with a young lady who claimed that “people who watch sport, rather then play it, are wasting their lives”.
This prompted a 40-minute rant from said friend who promoted the benefits of watching sport.
There are several reasons why someone does not play sport and chooses to watch instead. They may have career ending injuries, be supremely uncoordinated, lazy, devoid of time to train twice a week and give up a whole Saturday for sport, or they might just enjoy it.
What ever their reason, not everyone can play.
I just wish this young lady could have witnessed the final day of the EPL season and then attempted to make this argument. By now we all know what happened and how remarkable it was, so I shall avoid a recap, but more look at how an event like this, supporting a loser and sport in general, effect our lives.
I can not think of another activity that can churn you through a hurricane of emotion in such a short period of time. In the space of four minutes City fans went from utter despair, to hopeful and then to borderline riots of joy. This was made more intense given their history of choking, under performing and their 40 year premiership drought.
It seemed appropriate that the hoodoo was broken in this way. It is the way of a loser.
If you support one of these perennial losers, like me supporting the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup, you convince yourself that you accept the inevitable heart break you are about to receive. You casually convince your friends that you already know that you are going to lose. You understand the certainty of the whole thing. However deep inside you still hold the faintest hope that it will turn around.
When your team loses, you tell everyone you are neither surprised or affected. “Hey, I told you this was going to happen” nonchalantly comes out of your mouth, while deep down you are still bitterly disappointed.
When your team is in a funk like this, it takes a monumental event to break the curse. You never have a standard win or regulation result.
Geelong fans had suffered through 40 years of VFL/AFL irrelevance and continually failed to get the job done. Then came the record breaking 119 point grand final victory over Port Adelaide. They did not just beat them, they annihilated them and then went on to dominate the league for the next four years.
The All Blacks were red hot favourites for every Rugby World Cup since its inception in 1987. After winning the inaugural tournament in New Zealand they went on a 24 year heart breaking journey. The fans suffered through many years of disappointment, lynched many coaches and chased players out of the country.
This stinky streak was broken in the most remarkable fashion. They won the final on the same ground against the same opposition from ’87 with the final score being 8-7. Spooky!
The Boston Red Sox fans had to suffer through the Curse of the Bambino. The Red Sox were a dominant force with Babe Ruth and won numerous World Series. He was then traded to the Yankees who had never won one. Since this fateful day in 1920, the Yankees have won 26 World Series and up until 2004, the Sox had 0.
Come 2004 this all changed and they managed to break the curse in the most spectacular way. They beat the Yankees in a seven game series by being the first team in baseball history to come from 3-0 deficit in a finals series. They then went on to sweep the cardinals in the World Series.
It is by supporting these perennial losers that you appreciate the meaning of sport. By associating yourselves with these teams you can be pulled into the abyss of despair and frustration, only to be dragged, once all had seemed lost, kicking and screaming into the belief that this is your teams year. It provides those of us who care, with an emotional outlet.
Not to say the supporters of dominant teams, such as the Canterbury Crusaders do not feel a vast range of emotion, in fact they experience the exact opposite of the cellar dwellers. Winning is expected and in defeated, anguish ensues. Answers need to be found because it is preposterous that they actually lost. But, ultimately, it is far easier to support a successful team than a loser.
Say you have two children, one of which is a genius, the other a drop out. One is a sign of success and easy to love, the other is frustrating but if any small thing is achieved it seems 10 fold to what it actually is. Its all about expectation management.
Some people watch stage shows, others watch movies, we watch sport.
The cathartic release, range of emotion and the sense of camaraderie provide us with a situation where we can still unleash large amounts of testosterone and experience the feeling we once had playing competitive amateur sport.
Much like professional athletes, the amateur has similar issues when leaving the contact sport you love. Sure we have our day jobs waiting for us but there seems to be a piece of you missing once you retire from you division 4-B Grade rugby team. Sure, you were never that good, but there is a sense of team and group companionship that is hard to find if you have never played a team sport.
By watching professional sport we can find that sense of team. You know the players names, you have some of their back stories. They almost feel like old mates you have not seen in a while. You want them to succeed and you often yell advice at them during a game, which is not always constructive.
You become staunchly patriotic about your side and are willing to defend it at any time when it is questioned. You will happily debate your chances, other teams and the entire competition in general. It provides us with an opportunity to stand around a BBQ and start heated conversation while we watch meat burn.
This is sport; this is why I love it. It brings multitudes of people together and if you are a sports polygamist like me, then it provides endless enjoyment, frustration, hatred, wonder and most of all a sense of belonging and camaraderie that can be achieved by few other activities.
It’s kinda like being married, except when you leave the ground at the end of the game you do not have to leave half of your belongings behind.
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