Once, in a college class, I casually — or perhaps not so casually — made the comment that people could afford to get obsessed about sports because the games really don’t matter. It’s something you allow yourself to feel passionately about, knowing it isn’t going to change your life anymore than you allow it.
Sports don’t matter?
That shocked some of my classmates, disgusted others (who didn’t even deign to respond), and amused my professor, who agreed with me.
Let’s look at what I think does matter. Poverty, putting food on the table or the simple ability to pay your bills responsibly. Family and close friends, especially as we grow older. Our health, whether it’s maintaining or regaining it.
Certainly I understand the commitment professional coaches and players are going to have. It’s their livelihood, and a high pressure one at that. Yes, it matters to them. In fact, it’s likely to have a lifelong effect, one way or the other. So for anyone who makes a living in the world of sports, it matters, to varying degrees.
To those of us who just watch, bitch & moan, cheer at the top of our lungs and all the rest, it’s entertainment. It doesn’t matter.
I’m from Minnesota, which means I’m not used to seeing championship teams. In 1987, however, the Twins shocked everyone by winning the World Series. Their fans, and I was one of them, were euphoric. Good memories, fun to relive, but those games didn’t change my life one bit. Okay, I got a sweatshirt.
They won again in 1991, a top-notch World Series, and while the euphoria wasn’t the same (we’d been there before), it felt GOOD. Yet once again, it didn’t change my life, or the lives of too many of its fans. Maybe some won big money from ill-advised betting (a redundant phrase in my book), but no doubt the vast majority of that money was quickly spent, probably not wisely.
Still, there is a certain camaraderie that develops. My mom is friends with her next-door neighbor, a reclusive man who few in her building have gotten to know, because he’s heard her yelling when the Vikings score a touchdown. He’s a bigger fan than she is and loves to talk about the game, what they did wrong and on rare occasions, what they did right (for some reason, Vikings fans never like to talk about their team has done right).
In the end, sports don’t matter, any more than your favorite television show or beloved novel does. Yet…of course they do, because they’re an outlet for all that does matter. It gives us a chance to vent our emotions and say what we have to say in a safe environment.
And damn it, it’s fun.
Image Credits: (Football Players) © Bigstock; (Sports Equipment, Trophy) © Graphic Stock