This post is dedicated to a ‘dotty’ friend who lives and breathes cricket, and occasionally tennis. And inspired by this excellent must-read post on one of my favourite blogs.
One of the most inexplicable things on this planet is sports-fan-dom. It is held sacred by those who share it with others but is completely beyond the understanding of those outside its influence. Now while I firmly believe that the latter are missing out on a wonderfully mad experience, lately I have begun to wonder whether the former, which includes me, need to rein it in a little.
Like any other addiction the line between knowing you have it under control to careening out of control is blurry at best. One moment you are watching a match, looking for a good game, perhaps indulging in healthy banter with other fans, and the next you’re shouting abuses across the room at someone you don’t even know. Or worse, you’re hollering at a tv in the middle of the night because of a defensive error/ dropped catch/ missed opportunity, alone. Pathetic picture, isn’t it?
All for the want of some good sense.
Anxiety and anguish because your favourite player is injured and you can’t get to the blog which gives minute-by-minute updates on their condition to you and thousands of other fruitcakes like you. Getting jumpy before a big match. Moping around the whole of next day because your side lost. And still the same, a week later. After having spent a considerable sum trying to cheer myself up with food binges on such occasions, I can vouch for the unhealthiness. The elation after a big win is also a reality, admittedly more healthy because, of course, anything that takes your mind off the depressing reality of the world has to be good. FC Barcelona fans will vouch for the fact especially after the unending waves of euphoria that they have been riding for almost three years now. And yet one of the highest points still remains the famous ‘manita’ against arch rivals Real Madrid, which lead to weeks of it-cant-be-explained good mood.
Then there is the negative side of sports rivalries. The team aspect was ably demonstrated by the Spanish pantomime that unfolded over the course of April this year (yes, we should have listened when we were told that too much of a good thing is never good). But if the players are bad, the fans are worse. The behaviour over the course of the clasicos, the Vancouver riots more recently, and yesterday’s riots after River Plate’s relegation and I don’t need to say much more. The question is, why does this bring out the worse in us? I take sports seriously but there has to be a point where things start to appear ridiculous even to the rabid likes of me. Riots? Over a football match?
Being a sports fan, and all the lunacy that accompanies it, is difficult to explain to others. But when you reach a point where you can’t even explain it to yourself, that is when you have lost all perspective. It doesn’t do to turn your life into an emotional rollercoaster that depends completely and solely on match results. Once you get into it deep, it is a quagmire. You develop routines and superstitions which you cannot get out of, you can’t even stop supporting a particular team without being guilt-ridden for the rest of your life, even if it is eating into other precious activities. Now, if you cannot do without watching your favourite team play, even if it is the middle of the night, at a particular friend’s house (who doesn’t care about the game one bit and is too nice to tell you, so you shamelessly continue to impinge) sitting on the one bean bag chair that you know is losing its stuffing under your weight but you can’t help parking your backside on it. Because that was where you sat the last time they won, naturally. And you refuse food and drink because apparently any change in your body weight because of nutrition intake changes the balance of the match, listen carefully, yes you, you need help.