Earlier this year, I made a trip up to Philadelphia, a whopping 2,000 miles away, to go see a Phillies game. Well actually, while I was there, I did a lot of soul searching. A LOT. I joked around that it was a quest to find inner peace disguised as going to see a Phillies game. I went up there to turn over stones, tie up loose ends, and discover more about myself. I got to go see a friend while I was there for a weekend getaway and it was a wonderful time. I enjoyed every second of that trip as a totally objective fan of baseball. The game got rained out, but that’s not the point. The point was enjoying a sporting event.
One of the questions I asked myself while I was sitting on Taylor’s couch watching New Girl (hilarious show by the way) was “Why do we love sports?” Talk about opening up a can of worms. I went down a rabbit hole in my brain and I got even more confused.
Why? Why do we choose to subject ourselves to this TORTURE? Why do we watch the heartbreak, the beatdowns, the despicable seasons (ahem Chicago sports), every year? Why do I consistently get amped up for the Packers every week, knowing that their defense is going to get absolutely torched. Why do I let my emotions get taken for a rollercoaster ride every single week during football season?
I’ll tell you all a story real quick. It was the 2016 NFC Championship Game. The Green Bay Packers make their way into Atlanta for the right to go to the Super Bowl. I would’ve liked to have been sitting on the couch and in the safety of my home. Instead, I was stuck at a family gathering with my then girlfriend at family friend’s house in the middle of La Mesa, NM. There I was, decked out in full Green Bay uniform and cheesehead. As most of you recall, the Falcons absolutely obliterated the Packers 44-21. The game wasn’t even remotely close.
It was despicable, pathetic, agonizing, and infuriating all at once.
My then girlfriend said the words “it’s just a game, don’t get so mad babe.” And the look that I gave her in retort was such a look of incredulousness. A game? A GAME?! Woman, this is my LIFE! How this team goes, I go. When the Packers get embarrassed on national TV, it might as well be the end of my life at that point. How can she just sit there and say ridiculous things like “don’t get so mad.” Does she not understand how emotionally invested I am in this stupid game? …We’re not together anymore.
So the question is why? Why do we continue to watch? There are several possible answers. I’ve heard answers such as tribalism, nostalgia, competitiveness. All these answers are good and I don’t disagree with them. But the most common answer I hear is that we want to escape everyday life. And buddy, I could not possibly agree anymore.
I’m going to give you a hot take, the real world stinks. STINKS. Mostly everybody out there is working a job they don’t like to make money to pay bills. For the most part, most of us have a lot to be thankful for. Whether it be kids, working limbs, loving parents, etc. etc. But sometimes, all that can’t be topped by coming home from a long day of getting yelled at by customers, cracking open a cold beer, kicking our feet up, and just watching the game. It’s simply beautiful.
You could definitely make the argument that watching a sporting event that has you on the edge of your seat, tearing at your emotions string from string is the opposite of relaxing. That part is like wiping before you poop, it just doesn’t make sense.
But one reason I’ve found that explains everything is that humans don’t make sense.
We just don’t.
We’re extremely tribal in our sports. “My city is better than your city!” or “Dude, you’re from Flagstaff, your team is a bunch of bums!” It’s ludicrous. I’m typing this up just as the Red Sox wrapped up the ALCS in a paltry 5 games. Boston has got it made right now. They have to have made a deal with the devil or something, sheesh.
We question our existence when watching sports. “Why does God hate me? Is there a God? THERE CLEARLY ISN’T BECAUSE IF THERE WAS, HE WOULD’VE MADE BRANDON BOSTICK DO HIS JOB AND JUST BLOCK FOR THE ONSIDE KICK RECOVERY BY JORDY NELSON IN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AGAINST SEATTLE.”
As humans, we love to release our anger yelling at a TV at a ref or umpire who blew a call. That doesn’t make any fricking sense either. They literally cannot hear us and in the end we just end up yelling “what the BLEEP ARE YOU LOOKING AT YOU BLEEPING BLEEPHOLE!” like a goddamn lunatic.
Actually, I think I just answered my own question. None of this makes any sense, but we accept it because a lot of the time, us as humans and us going about our everyday life don’t really make sense either. We use sports as our escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life and we find solace and rejoice in sharing something as a community, whether it be me joining 50,000 fans doing The Chop in Atlanta, or simply watching the games on TV with my family in my home in El Paso, TX. In the end, we’re all lunatics. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Plus, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that being right about your team or a play isn’t the absolute best feeling in the world, ever, in the history of time. Those are just #facts.