Thursday, February 23, 2012

Me and Sports: A Love/Hate Relationship

There are just eight seconds left in the game. Our team has possession of the ball but we are down by four points. In the few seconds before the ball is hiked, several thoughts go through your mind. What are our chances of getting past the enemy's defense? Maybe a receiver will somehow break free and have a wide-open path down the field. The other team has played dirty throughout the whole game. We deserve to win. Come on, guys! You have to win! WE have to win! Finally, the moment has come. The quarterback has the ball. He's going to throw it...but there's no one open! Just before a defensive lineman hurtles toward our quarterback, the ball is released. One player from our team and two players from the other team are running to grab it. This is gonna be a close one! Six hands reach out for the grab; only two manage to hold onto the ball. Who got the ball? Who got the ball? WE DID! WE WON! It's a miracle! You are so happy you cannot contain yourself. You hug all the people around you whether you know them or not. You jump up and down and laugh hysterically. You feel so proud, it's as if you scored the game-winning points yourself!

Sound familiar? Before I graduated from BYU, I took an American Sports History class. While the class wasn't half as enjoyable as you might think, we did discuss concepts that made me look at the role of sports in our lives in an entirely different way. Think of the game of basketball, for example. All that's really happening is that there are five players from one team on the court trying to break through the defenses of five other players from the opposing team to put the ball in the basket. Simple, right? Wrong. What's really happening is that there are 50,000 people rooting for one team and 50,000 other people rooting for the other team. If their team loses, 50,000 people are disappointed, humbled, and down in the dumps. Why should ten guys on a court affect us so much? It's because every game is so much more than just a game. When BYU plays Utah, it's more than just a competition to see the physical prowess each team can exude. It is a battle between the schools themselves. When the USA competes in the Olympics, we are fighting to justify our national pride, to uphold our ideals and beliefs.

Maybe this sounds stupid, but it's true. I see it in my own life. When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series a couple of years ago, I felt some serious regional pride even though I really don't care for baseball that much. When the 49ers almost made it to the Superbowl this year, I wanted them to win just as much as everyone else even though I really hate professional football. It's because we assign so much value and importance to sports. It's so much more than the physical nature of the game. For us, it's personal.

My Dad's love of basketball was instilled in me at a very young age. I even remember watching the Jazz battle the Bulls in the 1998 Finals. Every spring I would watch the Play-Offs with my family. My Dad has been a Celtics fan for decades and we would root for them, both when they won and when they lost. Mom wore Dad's Celtics jersey to her job at the high school. I have a shirt with the Boston Celtics logo on it. I love Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. (I will always love Big Baby Davis and Kendrick Perkins even though they're not on the team anymore.) Those boys are my boys. They're MY Celtics. It hurts when they lose. It feels so good when they win!
Along with this love of the Celtics comes an automatic hatred of the Lakers. I have been asked a lot recently why I (and so many others) hate the Lakers so much. I've given this an embarrassing amount of thought to come up with a good solid reason for my animosity towards them. Is it Kobe's questionable personal life? No. Is it Gasol's annoying ability to flop around like a fish to fool the dumb refs into thinking he's been fouled when he clearly hasn't been? No. Is it former Laker Lamar Odom's relationship with Khloe Kardashian? No, it's not that either. After thinking about it for a good while, the main beef I have with the Lakers has nothing to do with the players themselves. The main reason I strongly dislike them is their fans.

(DISCLAIMER: I have many friends who love the Lakers. They are good people. I don't mean to offend anyone by this post...yeah...)

These are the top 3 reasons why Lakers fans make me hate the Lakers:
1) "If you don't root for the Lakers, you are rooting for losers." Let's just nip this common misconception in the bud shall we? Yes, the Lakers are good. They win a lot of games. I would be a complete idiot if I chose to deny that. But let me remind you that the Lakers do not hold the record for the most wins at the NBA Championships. The Celtics still hold that one.
2) Maybe I'm a horrible person but I believe in the stereotype that most celebrities are idiots. Because of their location, the Lakers team is the natural one for celebrities to turn to. Two words: Jack Nicholson. Enough said.
3) They never admit that another team may have played better than they did. The most common phrase that comes from a Lakers fan's mouth after they lose is, "They were just having an off night." When the Celtics lose, I freely admit that they played horribly and that the other team kicked our trash. But Lakers fans...the other team could be wiping the floor with them and they will still never say that their opponents played well. (Kind of on the same vain but not, I don't care who you root for. You can't deny that Ray Allen is one of the classiest NBA players out there, not to mention one of the greatest three-point shooters of all time. Just sayin' ;)

This is why I both love and hate sports. I love the action and the rivalries. I love the drama and the competition. But things get way too personal sometimes. When your team wins, it doesn't say anything about you as a fan. When they lose, there is no need to despair. It really is just a game.

(This blog was mostly for me. I'm sure I'm the only one that gets this worked up about sports...right?)

1 comment:

The Keogans said...

Dad just had fun reading it all out loud to us all ;)