Is being a committed sports fan fun and normal? Or is it just a sign of deeper psychological issues?
I tipped toed into my kitchen last night and slowly shut the door behind me. I didn’t want to disrupt any of my roommates sleep schedules. After all, it was 1 AM here in Ireland. But it was also halftime of the Chicago Bulls Game 1 match up against the Boston Celtics. I wasn’t ready to go to sleep. So I fired up whatever the thing is that I fire up to get some hot water, and I mixed it with some instant coffee. Drinking this generic instant coffee that I bought in January is the equivalent of willingly swiping my tongue through hot mud and swallowing. Nevertheless, I persisted, and eventually my heartbeat reached a level high enough to #seered. The Bulls and I were ready to pull off a Game 1 road victory.
Before I continue, let me take you back to before the game, or around 11 PM here in Ireland. I was keeping myself busy, and thus not tired, by attempting to trick my computer into thinking that I was in Chicago instead of Dublin. My attempts proved futile, so I went for plan B- another illegal route. I searched for streams of the game on the Internet for about thirty minutes. Finally, I landed on one that would lead me to some sort of online prostitution web page if I basically clicked anything besides the volume. Nevertheless, I persisted.
Heading into the playoffs, the Bulls were considered by many to be the worst team out of the 16 who qualified. There is no chance* that the Bulls will win the NBA Finals. In fact, making the playoffs at all arguably hurt their chances at being a top tier team in the coming years. They’ll subsequently have a worse draft pick, it’ll give the complacent front office some false sense of gratification, and they’ll be in the same place next year. I am not dumb*, and I know basketball. I knew heading into the playoffs rooting for the Bulls was pointless. But, nevertheless, I persisted.
What is it called when you willingly do something that you know will be harmful to your well being? I know this rollercoaster ride will all end in anticlimactic heartbreak, but I still bought my ticket, sat down, and put my seat belt on. For you non-sports fans, I'll attempt at a real world comparison.
It’s sort of like when you’re dating someone for a while at the age of 24 or so and someone asks you if you’re going to marry that person. Then you scoff at them, “Oh, no way.” Then they follow up with, “Well, why are you dating them then?” Although an appropriate and reasonable question, that's when you tell that person to shut up. We didn't ask for anyone to point out the stupidity of our life choices, alright? Yes. Yes, this is exactly what cheering for the Bulls in the playoffs this year is like. You’re not going to get married (win the finals) and you know that that means you’re going to have a sad break up (Bulls losing) but you keep on with it anyway!
I sat in my room by myself watching the Bulls and if someone was interested enough in my life to stick a video camera in there I would be checked into a hospital today against my will. The film would have showed 2 and a half hours of fist pumping, whispered shrieks and screams, and me literally saying “yeahhhhhh” aloud after a Bulls basket or defensive stop as if I was on the visiting bench.
My stream was a few minutes behind, so for the last thirty minutes of the game I put my phone on silent behind me. I isolated myself from the outside world from then until there were zero seconds left. The Bulls won, and any doubt or reasonable thought I had coming into the playoffs about the Bulls chances left out the cracked window in my room. The logical thinking fort in my brain was invaded and conquered. Beyonce said it best, “Remember those walls I built, well baby they’re tumbling down, and they didn’t even put up a fight, they didn’t even make a sound.” They really didn’t put up much of a fight. She was talking about love, but I am talking about something much more serious. Throughout the game, I could feel the irrational thinking soldiers in my brain surging towards, and eventually through, the logical thinking fort. But the moment that I knew the walls had fallen for sure and the fort had been conquered was when my little brother called me and I said mid conversation, “I would follow Robin Lopez into war.”
If you would have told me a year ago I would have ever said such a thing about the man above (who averages 8 points and 5 rebounds for his career) I would have told you, well, I probably would have just asked, “What the hell did the Bulls do now?”
The question remains: Is being this committed of a sports fan fun and normal, or is just an avenue to find out you’re messed up before the therapist tells you? I don’t know, but I’d love to hear from you. If any of the fifteen of you reading this want to send in your most irrational or miserable sports fan stories, please either leave them in the comments or submit them under the “Contact” tab. It doesn’t have to be you, either. One of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed was when my Dad, after being a cubs fan for 50 years, had the first adult temper tantrum I’d ever witnessed after the Cubs were on their way to losing to the Dodgers in the NLDS in 2008. He proclaimed he was “no longer a Cubs fan.” Well, I watched game 1 of 162 with him on our couch the next year. I want to compile all of these stories into one big blog, I think it has the potential to be pretty entertaining, so don’t be shy.
More importantly, grab your gun and put your boots on, because we’re back in for the long haul.
*There's always a chance, right?
*I am pretty dumb actually