For some people Sports fandom is representing where their from. Their city, their state, and in world events, their country. For other's it comes from having a childhood idol that makes you a fan of a team. For some, it's a fad, like one team today, a different tomorrow. For other's it's about gambling, but for all, it's an experience.
On March 13th of this year, I received a call that changed my life. My little brother called me and said "T.J. you have to get here now before dad goes to the hospital." I had just finished clocking out for lunch at work, it was 12:40PM, I turned to my boss and said, "I have to go, my dad's dying right now." Even from the brief description my brother gave me, I knew. I knew by the tremendous pain I heard in his voice. I can feel the wetness of his tears through the phone, and soon I was feeling my own. I drove the 15-20 miles to their location, taking a call from the paramedics on the way. They asked "Mr. Taylor would Thomas Taylor want us to try and revive him." I emphatically answered yes. Knowing two things, my dad would cherish even a few more moments, and I wanted to tell him I loved him one last time. I didn't get the chance, when I arrived they were disconnecting cables from him, taking of their gloves and calling the time of death. I got there in time to see my dad's body lifeless, and watched as they covered him with a white sheet. I cried. My brother cried. My sister cried. My fiancée who showed up cried. It was the hardest moment any of us had faced, but it was the moment our father was set free. Free from pain. Free from chemotherapy. Free from a 3 year battle he fought hard and won.
My dad had his initial surgery to try and remove the tumor from his colon in September 2012. The weeks leading up to the surgery he was in unimaginable pain. I could see it in his movements and in his eyes. The two days I saw him feel his best prior to surgery were both Sundays. One Sunday the 49ers played the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau field. My dad and I went to the same bar we frequently visited to watch the game. Something miraculous happened that day. I saw my dad get out of our truck gingerly, and could see him wince in severe pain from even the most regular of movements, but once that game came on, all of that went away. He was cheering, he was eating, he was living without pain for those 3 hours, he as free from pain as he could be. The following week, the 49ers played the Lions during Sunday Night Football. Again, throughout the day my dad was moving slower than usual, trying to limit pain. He was struggling to keep any food down. But much like the week before once the broadcast of the game started, it was as if he was cancer free. There was something special for him, for us, that happened when he got to watch them play. The following two seasons were the same. During the week, he was visibly hurt, he wasn't the same person, but then on Sunday the appetite was there, the happiness was there, the cancer free life he deserved was there.
Following the events of March 13th, there have been easy days, and there have been tough days. Days where I (and I know my brother and sister as well) struggle to fight back tears. Struggle to have energy just to be happy, and to smile. The last week, the Giants were in town playing the Mariners. (I'm a 49ers and Giants fan in Seattle). I went to both games. I was there with friends, and my fiancée. For the time at the game I didn't feel the pain I felt after losing my dad, I was able to get lost in the moment. Standing next to my future wife, yelling to Giants players in the bullpen trying to get their attention. Standing in line with my friends to buy beers. I realized why my dad was always so happy when we were watching the games together. It wasn't the games, it was the memory building. The moments we will always have, and will one day reminisce about together, and that I reminisce on today.
To answer my question, "What does Sports Fandom Mean to you?" To me, it's a freeing experience, freeing you for the rigors of life. It's a bonding experience, helping you to build a bond with people you know and love, and forge new ones with people you've just met. Most importantly it's a chance to build memories that will last a lifetime, whether the your team wins or loses, you can win, as long as you make the most of that experience.