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July 1, 2005

Woe is me

by Pratik Bhandari, Page Editor
Some people spend an hour a day. Some spend considerably more. Then again, there are some who shun sports and everything associated with them altogether.

My mom is one of those people. She can't understand why I spend so much time, day after day, year after year, poring over stat sheets, talking about overpaid, selfish divas, and she definitely can't understand why I care so much about something whose outcome, in all likelihood, I won't be able to change in any way, shape or form.

Once in a while – especially after every team I root for has messed up all year (see Redskins, Wizards before this year, O's before this year) – I wonder the same thing myself. Ever since I actually started paying attention to football, about five years ago, I've rooted for the 'Skins. And every year – except for that first year when I was actually optimistic – I've known that we probably weren't going to make the playoffs and that, as per usual, we would fail to live up to all our hype. But every year, I follow the team anywhere I can: in the paper, on TV, on the internet (this one can take months, if not years out of your life as obscure fan sites scare the bejeebus out of you with preliminary reports that the Redskins are actually thinking about trading away next year's draft picks to get Jason Campbell, which is followed thereafter by the Redskins actually doing it) and basically anywhere else I can.

Why do I torture myself this way, why do I return again and again to the cause of my suffering? The best way to explain it is that when you become a fan of a team, you also become a part of a large extended family (even though you don't really do anything) where everyone is pulling for the same thing. In an age where good Samaritans are few and far between and where most people ask what's in it for themselves, it's refreshing to be able to identify yourself with people that share at least one of your interests and desires.

That, more than anything else is really the bond that keeps sports alive. It isn't the multi-millionaire athletes or the billionaire owners or even the risqu้ beer commercials that pop up every ten seconds (I'm not complaining, mind you), but rather that connection that every fan of a team makes with every other fan of that team. The instant friendships generated by sports are unparalleled in almost every other facet of life. Unless you meet your soulmate or your soulbuddy as it were, there's no way two people become best friends within the span of an hour or two. But I've seen it happen routinely at sports events around the world. It's amazing how quickly you can hit it off with someone if you happen to like the same team as him or her. Don't believe me? Go out and try it some time. You'd be surprised.

The ugly side of this, however, is the so-called rivalry. Duke vs. Maryland. New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox. Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox. New York Mets vs. New York Yankees. New York Yankees vs. The Rest of The World (just kidding). I could go on and on. But in a way, this is another central piece to the unbelievable attraction that sports holds for me. It's almost an induced emotion; something that you subconsciously feel with no real thought process behind it and it can be, at times, liberating and almost blissful to be caught up in that rush of emotion.

The most obvious reason, while not the most important, is the sheer fact that sports are entertainment. Three hours, sometimes more, of seeing people do amazing things, almost routinely. Just imagine, for a moment, how hard it is to shoot a basketball from 22 ft out into the bucket three times out of ten. Or catching up to a 90 mph white bead with a round bat, hitting it at the perfect angle and launching it 360 ft or more. Or throwing a football with just enough touch to clear a six-footer – who can probably dunk on a basketball hoop – but short enough so that a sprinting guy can catch it all while some 300 pound freak of nature who can somehow run a 4.9 40 is about to dismantle you. How do you describe these people who have become so good at what they do that this intricate ritual has become almost routine?

Sports awe us. They enrapture us and help us connect to people who you may not have ever had a chance to meet. And somehow, they make getting up in the morning, doing the same thing over and over again not quite as mundane.

So no ma, I'm not gonna give up on the 'Skins, even though they'll probably collapse by Week 2. Or the Orioles (who are currently in a horrible swoon). Don't even get me started on how giddy the Nationals are making me. And why can't the Wizards win the championship next year?

Most, if not all, of my dreams will probably be shattered. But there's always next year.



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  • sports fan on July 5, 2005 at 12:38 PM
    so true.
  • haha on July 7, 2005 at 3:02 PM
    Awesome article Pratik.
  • blair alum at michigan on July 11, 2005 at 11:28 PM
    you forgot one of the biggest rivalries in history: michigan vs ohio state. enjoyed the article though. nothing compares to the feeling of being at michigan stadium with over 112,000 other people and beating your arch rival.
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