To the Non-Sports-Fan

Sorry, I’m a little distracted.


Remember that feeling you had when they announced the Star Wars prequels? And you didn’t even have the faintest suspicion that they could possibly suck?

How about that feeling when you read that awesome book and then you found someone else had read it too, and then it became a national best seller and holy crap there’s a THEME PARK FOR IT NOW?

(Yeah looking at you, Harry Potter fans.)

Well, that’s kinda like what I’m feeling now.  Only it’s like I watched the prequels, and they did suck, and the book I love didn’t make the best seller list; everyone thought some OTHER book was better but now, at last, The Force Awakens is out and all is forgiven and…


…and I get to scream and jump up and down with strangers on the street. (This actually happened. I was walking to lunch.)

And yes, some people feel victimized by the culture of sports itself. We were loaners and outsiders and those OTHER people, those jocks… they weren’t, right?


Except they were. One thing I learned from becoming a jock late in life is how many of my jock-friends were loaners and outsiders and victims of bullying in school.  Often because they were jocks.

So… we’re all human, right? We all have things we’re passionate about.

Now we’re starting to get the reports of Bad Things. We all knew there would be Bad Things during the parade and after the championship.  We cringed and braced and hoped, but we knew it would happen.  The mistake is to, again, say “It’s sports fans. Sports fans are bad people.”

It’s actually human nature.  Humans do dumb things – dumber things – when in crowds.  It’s called deindividuation and none of us are immune to it – the solution is to accept the way we are and plan for it.  I, for one, don’t think that means not allowing humans to become crowds.  We’re gregarious animals. Don’t take that away from us.

Heck, Sunday night, I wanted to CLIMB SOMETHING. I wanted to EXPLODE SOMETHING. I wanted to be a rocket shot straight into the sun.


I wanted all that while completely alone, walking around my block in the sultry night air, listening to far-off screams and fireworks.

What the joy of sports is really about is emotion. It’s the same as reading or watching movies or any other entertainment – we engage in activities that specifically elicit strong emotions.  For the sheer power of that.

Is our celebration disruptive?  Well, yes.

 Disruption shakes into clarity moments we would have let pass into oblivion.

Enjoy the absence of routine.

“Why don’t people get this excited / spend this much energy on something IMPORTANT?”

They do. Every sports fan is also interested in other things.  Green issues. Gay rights.  Poverty.   Something.  But important things are divisive. In the throngs watching the Cavs parade there were Tea-Partiers cheek-and-jowl with radical feminists. They didn’t know it. They didn’t care. This, they can agree on: because it isn’t important.

Until it is. Maybe connecting on something banal, something that doesn’t really matter, will be the gateway to recognizing each other’s humanity. I dunno. It’s a hopeful thought.

And yes, some sports fans are jerks. Some will pretend they don’t even know what Star Wars is. (We’re on to  you, dudes. Once something is in a Taco Bell commercial, everyone has to know what it is.)  But… it will make YOU happier to be happy for us instead of resentful.  Believe me I know.

I used to hate Harry Potter.  All the things haters said? “It’s not that good. Why don’t better books get noticed?” I said that stuff.  I got over it. Now I’m happy for you Potter fans. That Harry Potter world place looks neat. I’d like to see it.

Feeling happy for others feels much better.



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