I’d like to think that I’m more mature now than I was as a young boy. You be the judge.
As a young child, I can remember going into a funk and mini-depression or tantrum if my Nebraska Cornhuskers football team lost a football game, especially a bowl game.
Logically speaking, there were not many reasons why I adopted them as my football team. My only connection was that I was born in Omaha. My family moved to Hillsboro when I was 5 years old, so I can’t say I knew much about any college or university. Whatever the case, I was a fan of the Cornhuskers. Most of the time they won and life was good, but when the results were bad, look out!
If you are competitive by nature, you are both blessed and cursed.
Competition was something I enjoyed from the time I was born. It didn’t matter if I played ping pong, basketball or a card game. I played to win and took no prisoners.
Now that I’m older and allegedly more mature, I should know how to watch a game and accept a win or loss with grace, but alas, that’s not always the case.
But I’m not alone. Why do we act like a game actually matters? No matter who wins, life will go on. It’s not like the losing team dies.
Why does society praise athletes so much?
Why are athletes paid so much more than teachers, social workers and others whose jobs are far more important?
After the Patriots lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl this year, unapologetic Patriots fan and columnist Bill Simmons wrote on ESPN.com: “This was a night that made you say, ‘Why does this matter to me so much? Isn’t it fundamentally stupid that this matters so much?’
“This was a night when you try to keep everything in perspective by going through a checklist of reasons why you shouldn’t be depressed—‘Are my kids healthy?’ (Check) ‘Are my parents still alive and healthy?’ (Check) ‘Do I like my job?’ (Check) ‘Do I have a good group of friends?’ (Check)—and just by doing that, you feel like the biggest moron on the planet.”
It’s easy to identify with Simmons. I don’t honestly know why I like sports so much. I don’t recall being forced to like sports, although I played a lot of baseball and football with my dad in the backyard. My dad also was my coach in Little League baseball. And I enjoyed going to watch an occasional Major League Baseball game with him.
One of the life lessons my sister learned at a young age was that there’s a time and place for everything at sporting events.
On one occasion, our family went to a baseball game. My sister chose an inopportune time to tell dad, “I need to go to the bathroom.”
He replied, “Not now. The bases are loaded.”
But I digress. Being passionate can be a good thing. It also can be painful beyond belief.
Is there anything as exhilarating as watching your team win a championship with an exciting finish? Or, is there anything quite like watching your team blow a big game? The introduction on the old Wide World of Sports TV show was spot-on — “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”
It’s important to know your limitations. That’s why when my team, Wichita State University, played in the NCAA Basketball Tournament this year, I tried to reduce my anguish by just watching snippets of the game against VCU. But I couldn’t resist watching the final minutes when the outcome of the game was in doubt.
I had to prove to myself that I could handle the outcome, win or lose.
We lost. I could have cried.