When does it start, this life long commitment to the sports world, as kids I guess for most of us. We are drawn in by our friends and family, we start cheering for the Home town team and then latch on to that one player. That player that has all the right moves, or maybe it’s the one that has shown so much promise in minors and our team told us that this is the one we have been waiting for to take us all the way to the finals.
We invest our time every week to the games, sitting at home around the TVs, jammed together in bars or sitting with thousands in arenas and stadiums. We watch the sport news all week in hopes of some small bit of information from the teams inner circle. We share those tidbits, those prized jewels of information with everyone that we can, on social media, in line at Costco and of course at work. We cringe over player injuries, trades made, trades that weren’t made, we boast about plays made and bitch about plays missed and complain about the missed calls by the officials on the other team and how the officials seem to be blind to some players antics.
We buy their shirts for $30 and their jerseys for $300. We have that one player picked out and have their name and number added to the back. Then we hope and pray they don’t get traded, injured or does something to embarrass the team so we can enjoy the jersey for a long time. We also buy their game day tickets, eat their hot dogs, popcorn, drinks, and their over priced beer. Some of us invest in the season tickets, dishing out hundreds to have that same seat, that seat they can call ”my seat”. This allows us to be there every week to make sure the team hears and sees us and knows we support the work they do.
We celebrate with a cheer and a tear when our heroes voice a farewell. We acknowledge their heroic feats and records not likely to be surpassed. We stand together in applause as our hero walks off the field of battle as they wave and give a tip of the hat.
Sometimes our home teams are taken from us and moved to another city, or worse, another country. We have rallies, call out for new investors, and raise donations to try to keep the team at home. Standing in the street by the hundreds, wearing those shirts and jerseys arm in arm singing and crying, cheering and yelling hoping someone can see how much the team means to you and hope they listen to your pleas to stay. In the end, sport teams are a business run by billionaires, and it turns out that your team was leaving and it didn’t matter how many rallies you stood in, they were going anyway.
A hole is left, why, what did we really lose? We didn’t own the team. In a way, the team belonged to us, it was a part of us, it was a symbol of belonging. Even though we weren’t on the roster, we became a part of the team and the team becomes a part of us. How do you fill that hole? Do you just go out and claim another team as yours? One that you have no history with, other than they were one of the rivals all those past years. There are players on those teams that may have taken part in plays that hurt someone on your team or maybe were involved in a missed call by an official that resulted in a season ending goal or point for their team. How can you choose one of those teams now as yours?
Once in a blue moon, a miracle happens and your team comes home, or you get someone else’s team to call your own. You have a home town team again and if you’re really lucky, it has the same name as the last one. The shirts and the jerseys can come out of the closets and the team chants can ring out. It’s a new era with new players which means new shirts and new jerseys and an opportunity to sing our national anthem with pride before our team goes into battle.
We watch our team through the season as they work out of losing streaks and push on with winning streaks. We cheer for the effort it takes to complete those impressive plays and sigh on should have had plays. We watch the standings, starting week one of the season and make predictions on where our team will finish up. We watch carefully, holding our breath as trades are made throughout the season hoping our favourite player doesn’t go and that we will finally get that help we have been needing since last season to get us to the playoff at last.
If your team pulls off enough wins in their division to make the playoffs, it starts a whole new level of commitment to your team. More games every week, more news highlights to follow and more conversation. Ticket prices go up, keeping ”my seat“ just got more expensive, but still finding a way to make it work. You have to be there to support the team! Every game win is one step closer to the finals, some teams wait decades to get to play in the finals. Every playoff loss is crushing but nobody expects to sweep the series. All we ask of the team is just to win the series or advance in the playoffs to reward us for our years of support with a run to the finals. Then we will be there with you loud and proud sitting on the edge of our seats!
The season is nearing the end, every playoff series could be the end of the run and every series advancement brings us one step closer to the finals. We cheer louder as our team gives that extra effort to control the game, and watch intently as they try to regroup and reorganize to regain control. We yell GO! GO! on the break aways, we cringe on the turn overs, we high five on every added point and groan on every lost point. Every win is a celebration and every loss a disappointment, for some there are tears for both. We start out hoping for a winning season, then we think maybe playoffs, then just get through the first round that would be a good season. Moving from one level to the next in the playoffs, could there be a chance this year? Is this the year? Are we going to go all the way to the finals?
And then it’s all over, our team loses. We look on in disbelief, hands over our mouths, how could this happen? We were so close! If only we hadn’t played so, why didn’t we play more, why didn’t the officials make that call, they had to have seen it! You can see those questions in the eyes of the fans and players as they realize their season just came to an end. The players regroup and acknowledge their fans for their support, knowing the dedication it takes to be a sports fan. The fans acknowledge their teams sacrifice for them, all that the players go through, the hundreds of hours training and practicing, working through injuries and having to spend days away their families.
Next year, we’ll get them next year!!