Updated: Jul 21
Mid April concludes the best month of sports in a calendar year. It starts with March Madness, bares witness to spring football and baseball's Opening Day, and concludes with my favorite sporting event: The Masters. Watching the furious, often irrational, intensity of various teams' fan bases, I thought about how to be a sports fan in moderation.
I enjoy watching sports; however, I do not get emotional about them. No matter what happens on the field or court, my life doesn't change. This realization struck me when my alma mater won its first NCAA men's basketball championship. It was fun and I was excited, but, the next morning, I had the same life that I did before the game. The previous night's championship had no impact on my life. Any sense of satisfaction from the victory was totally unearned. I wasn't on the team. I hadn't won a championship. It was a total stranger's achievement. Anything beyond mild celebration felt wrong. Why was I so excited about watching another person achieve his dream instead of working to fulfill mine?
This recognition compelled me to reassess my relationship with spectator sports. Sports are entertainment and I am merely a spectator. I wouldn't go crazy after a movie or play, so why should I have an emotional reaction after a game? The answer is I shouldn't. And now I don't. By becoming a moderate sports fan with almost no emotional investment, I found that sports are more enjoyable to watch. By moderating the amount of time that I spent following them, judiciously selecting what to watch and what to read about later, I recovered a great deal of time that could be channeled to more productive uses, like achieving my goals and living a richer life.
Like any pursuit or interest, if it negatively impacts your life, you should reconsider your relationship to it. If cheering for a team leads you to less-than-civil behavior, perhaps your time could be better spent on another activity. If you find yourself hating people whose sole offense is cheering for a different jersey, you need to reevaluate or possibly abandon your fan-hood.
Watching a game, enjoying a win, and being (mildly) disappointed at a loss should be the extent of one's emotional commitment to sports teams of which one is not a member. It should have no meaningful effect on your emotions or self-worth. If you or a relative is competing, I understand having a deeper emotional investment in the outcome. If not, it's wasted energy and often leads to questionable decisions. Like much of life, moderation is the key. Relishing a win is fun. Losses shouldn't upset you or ruin your day. Remembering that, win or lose, your life doesn't change will help guide you towards a healthy, moderate, and satisfying perspective on sports.