Only recently have I become a serious sports fan. Mine is a low degree of “serious,” but I have to admit, my team does play a part in my life.
It is no wonder that sports occupies a major role in American culture. Sports does, indeed, mirror much of the environment and tasks in which we engage on a daily basis. As such, Americans are very competitive…and combative. Winning, of course, is the ultimate goal, whether it’s on the playing field, at the office, on the highway or even in the family room. We love to win. We love to collect trophies and platitudes, stand on the top tier and wave our over-sized foam fingers declaring we’re #1. Then we build a highlight reel that shows others how good we are.
What’s cool is that anyone can play in the game of life and even score! But only a few make the cut to play for a professional sports team. Such individuals are held at high levels and usually exceed all expectations us little folk may have to accurately kick, hit, throw or catch a ball. Call it envy, hero-worshiping, or just plain admiration. It’s what fills stadiums and arenas and sells millions of dollars in clothing and memorabilia.
True, some games can be very stressful to watch, but overall, sports is a great escape. What’s troubling you? Relationship woes, North Korea, the politics in Washington? What better time to get lost in a sporting event than now? If you’re not watching the baseball playoffs, it’s not too late.
I‘m in my third year of being a devoted follower of the Chicago Cubs. I have a Cubs cap and shirt plus all the angst that goes along with a team that has played well…off and on. This year, getting to, and staying in, the Major League Baseball playoffs has proven a bit more difficult for the Cubs. It seemed a little easier last year when the team went all the way and won the World Series. But this isn’t last year’s team despite most of the key players still being accounted for.
Both the hitting and pitching are not at the same level as last year. The team’s star performers, Anthony Rizzo (1st base) and Kris Bryant (3rd base) aren’t exactly in a hitting slump, but their success at bat is nowhere as exciting as last year. Others have picked up the slack, like Javier Baez who hit two home runs to help salvage last night’s win-or-go-home contest. Now, if the Cubs can pull off the miracle of winning the final three games against the Dodgers, they will advance once more to the World Series. Three games in a row from a team that has manhandled them at will? Yeah, that’s a stretch…and that’s also what makes the Cubs a little unusual. They could, maybe, just say’n, on a good day, if the bases line up…do it! And that’s what makes sports such a great in-the-moment escape.
These are the kinds of events that make sports so compelling to watch, even for a casual fan like me. But hey, it beats watching the news, doing laundry or paying bills.