Top

Sports Fandom. Is it irrationally rational?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Most people can remember their first sports memory as a fan better than the one for themselves as an athlete.  This is because most of our first sports memory is probably striking out in Tee-Ball, or we don't have one at all.  I remember my first memory, Steve Young threw a 63 yard touchdown to Jerry Rice, only it didn't count because some O-Linemen was called for holding. I was mad. Later that day I would be sad. The 49ers lost the NFC Championship game that day. 30-20. To the hated Cowboys. I was 5. I cried, I suffered my first heart-break.  For 5 year old me, that was worse than finding out Santa Claus isn't real. I had no relation to these players, but felt as if they were my family. Steve Young was your cool big brother you never saw, but you looked up to him so much. Was this rational? Irrational? Or is it irrationally rational?

Talk with any long-time sports fan of a given team, and you'll hear stories of heart ache.  You'll hear stories of past greats, past games.  There's a sense of nostalgia that comes with the memories.  It's not just the game or the player, the fan knows where they were at, what they were wearing, and can tell you exactly how they were feeling during the game. This is amazing considering most people don't remember what they wore two days ago, or what color socks they have on today, unless they wear plain socks which is boring anyway.  Patriots fans will remember exactly where they were when David Tyree pinned the ball to his helmet making a catch to help the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.  Just the same they will remember what they were wearing when Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson to close out the Seahawks in another Super Bowl.  Those same games will spawn different memories for the Giants and Seahawks, forever.  It's a part of being a sports fan, part of the beauty of it really. What was I wearing under my cap and gown at graduation? I don't know, but I was wearing black sweats and a white long-sleeve 49ers shirt when Garrison Heart broke his ankle in the divisional round of the 1999 playoffs costing the 49ers the game and what would have been a Super Bowl winning team, in my opinion.  A memory cemented in my brain because of sports.  Is this rational? Irrational? Or is it irrationally rational?

When a game comes on, you pick a team, you cheer for them, you're picking sides. We do this more naturally than we do supporting a presedential candidate. Weird, because one has a bigger impact on our lives, but never mind that logic, we are sports fans.  What about the logic of picking sides among our own teams? Don't know what I mean? Think about QB battles. What about when your team jettisons a veteran for a younger option? There are Colts fans that still think they should have kept Manning, and some that think it was the right move going with Luck.  They'll never be swayed.  They pick sides, they dig in, they voice their opinion's, even though they can't vote on the matter it means a great deal to them.  Try telling a Manning supporter Luck was the better option or vice versa and prepare for an ear-full, and then some more.  Moving on from a Franchise great can split a fan base as fast as divorce does a family.  Is this rational? Irrational? Or is it irrationally rational?

When one of your favorite players retires, you get sad.  When a family member or friend retire you are happy for them and celebrate.  I'm still trying to figure this one out.  Patrick Willis and Justin Smith, two of my all-time favorite 49ers retired, I was sad.  Still am, I miss them playing.  Kobe Bryant retired, same thing.  I don't know anyone who has retired yet, but I imagine I'll be extremely happy for them.  You could say I'll be as happy for the as I was when the Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012, or 2014! That's a level of happiness, for me, only topped by my wedding day, and seeing the look on one of my wrestlers face when they get their arm raised after a win.  To me, this is all rational. Championships wins rival my wedding day in regards to level of happiness, some might find it irrational and that's fine because I find their opinion to be irrationally rational. 

As sports fans, we feel the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows.  We celebrate the wins, sometimes for too long.  We never let go off the heart breaking losses.  We talk about the greats as if they are family members. We talk about the busts as if they rear ended us on our way too work.  We are sports fans that teeter more towards the fanatic side.  Many of us should probably seek therapy, but I think, at times, all of us are irrationally rational and wouldn't have it any other way. Thanks for reading.

 




Load