Go fall in love with sports. Any sport. Pick a sport, pick a city, pick a team. Now fall into a deep, passionate, intense, enriching love with it and never let go. Everyone should know what it feels like to be dedicated to something so grand and special in which they have no control. As fans, we have zero say in what happens. We don’t determine the next play, we don’t get to decide that the next pitch should be a fast ball, we don’t construct who is on what line together in order to ensure that the perfect players are on the ice for the game winning goal. All these facts, these extremely key components to any team and sport is beyond us. All we can do is sit on our couches, or buy tickets to sit in an uncomfortable stadium seat and pray the game goes our way that day.
There is something so romantic and rewarding about being so invested in a team. It’s a community, it’s a family. There is instant camaraderie among fellow fans. The quickest way I’ve made friends with people is by liking the same sports team as them. You both have this unifying common knowledge, as well as an understanding of the other’s love for the game. It is instantaneous and not needing of words. An important friend has just been made because you can relate to the faithful love that is necessary to be committed to a sports team like that.
Jimmy Fallon said it best in his movie “Fever Pitch.” It’s a love story of a man, and a woman, and the Red Sox. He has an undying, overriding passion for the Red Sox, which I completely understand. But it’s in a time when not only had the Red Sox managed to screw up every chance they got to be the best, but his obsession was scaring away all interested women. He meets a smart, beautiful woman and as they get to know each other, he beings to reveal just how strong and committed his obsession is. In a conversation about loving the Red Sox, he says, “I like being part of something that’s bigger than me-than I. It’s good for your soul to invest in something that you can’t control.” And I couldn’t agree more. Even when all circumstances around him, mainly his girlfriend and fellow game goers who felt as if the season is going down the toilet, he triumphantly defends them. “…the Red Sox never let you down…That’s right. I mean – why? Because they haven’t won a World Series in a century or so? So what? They’re here. Every April, they’re here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don’t get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that’s here for you.” And I have always felt the same way. Even in being awful and having a losing season, where all hope is lost, they are still there. They will always come back in the spring. There will always be another game, another season to look forward to. Even in letting you down, they will never can truly let you down.
Sports bring people together. You all gather around a TV or the computer or in the outfield bleacher seats and you create this unique experience. You’re having a moment with each other, with fellow fans, and with the team. There will be other games with other teams, but this one is yours and that’s so special. Sports move people. There is a palpable anxiety and excitement in the air during a close game, and an uproar of joy when the game winning goal or run or point has been scored. You feel moved to jump and clap and sing and practically kiss the people next to you because you feel as if together you have conquered something, even though you haven’t. When the unfortunate event of a lose occurs, you have each other for support to get through it. Some of the best memories of my life involve sports. I went to my first AHL hockey game with my dad when I was 7. From there my love only grew. I was raised to be a sports fanatic. My parents both grew up in suburbs of Boston and had families that loved watching summertime baseball and November hockey nights together. My aunt would marry Tom Brady is she could. My cousin has been to countless Celtics games. Every birthday and Christmas since I was 13, I’ve asked for Bruins tickets. Part of my identity is being a sports lover. My friends know what’s going on when they hear my screams of elation and desperation. I wear my Boston sports pride on my sleeve. So many people think that I’m over the top, and too invested in something that does seem to matter. But it truly matters to me.
Everyone should have that. Everyone should feel the undying, deeply rooted love that comes from putting your whole self into a sport and a team and a community. It is magical, inspiring and moving to sit anonymously in a crowd and know that thousands, even millions share the same love you do.