Sunday, September 11, 2005

It Felt Good

It Felt Good

It often surprises a lot of people who don't know me really well, and may likely disturb some of my online colleagues, but I love sports. I could, for instance, very easily turn Silentio into an all-sports blog, and probably end up having something to say on an almost-daily basis. (A far cry from my general reluctance to post anything I've actually been thinking about lately.)

The only problem with this, however, is that I don't normally like a lot of 'normal' sports fans. This can likely be explained by the fact that I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, and was subjected to nearly constant cries of 'Go CATS' whenever the subject of University of Kentucky basketball came up. By the time I was in high school, no longer inclined to 'bleed blue', I relished their heartbreaking losses more than anything else.

This is not to say, though, that I cheered for those teams who played them. To this day, I still dislike Duke -- and cringe when I see Christian Laettner's last-second shot, even while appreciating Grant Hill's pass, which certainly made the play work. No, since leaving Lexington over ten years ago now, I've almost completely left behind any partisanship when it comes to teams. I neither cheer for or against teams. I'm more sympathetic to some, I suppose. But would never buy a team jersey or a hat with their logo. As in academics, my thinking & fandom is too abstract & distant -- maybe even theoretical. By and large, I cheer well-executed plays and exciting games.

I've annoyed many a hardcore fan of any given team by sitting down & watching a game with them, only to suddenly cheer 'for the other side' when they execute a bone-crunching block, or a great pass, or a level of play that is just genius. I remember sitting in a cafe in Brussels watching Manchester United play Real Madrid in the Champions League. I wasn't a huge fan of either, but, given the possibile hostility of the crowd, decided to be partial to ManU. I wanted them to win, I really did. And yet Real Madrid played one of the most flawless forty-five minutes of soccer I've ever witnessed. Granted, that's not a lot -- but it was a sentiment affirmed by most of the hardcore fans who know far more than I. Where they were willing to be in awe after the game, I completely forgot any faux partisanship during the game. They were just too good not to cheer, even if I didn't want them win!

In an attempt to (a) gain a few friends at work, and (b) find something to get excited about besides good execution, I decided to join a Fantasy Football league. Of course, it's been four years since I've really followed American football, I know none of the new guys, and most of the old guys are, well, old ... so, it shouldn't be at all surprising that my team, after Week One, is pure shite. I mean, I was up against a guy who didn't have a good game, and he's still going to beat me by 30+ points (no matter if Donovan McNabb & Brian Westbrook have good games -- both players of mine).

On one level, I was really ticked. But on another level, I found a whole new way of enjoying the games. And I re-discovered something I lost a long time ago: frustration. Before, I'd just get frustrated when a team consistently did boneheaded things on the field, and thus lowered the level of play. Yesterday, though, I felt the frustration, resentment even, deep in my bones. Last night, for instance, Matt Stover (my kicker) missed a fieldgoal. I was pissed. He then missed a second fieldgoal. I was livid. This morning I learn that he actually even missed a third after I'd turned off the game. I was mortified.

And it felt good.