Like most people, I love watching sports; but perhaps for totally different reasons to the scores of fans that follow their beloved teams through thick and thin. To me, sports is the representation of human endeavour, motivation and mind-over-matter. I love to watch the underdog win, and the human spirit prevail over what sometimes seems ‘impossible’. Usain Bolt running faster than any human before him; Craig Alexander conquering Ironman through strategy as much as physical fitness; the Sky Cycling Team map out their race winning formations like a masters chess match.
But despite my awe and respect in the face of amazing physical and mental prowess, I really can’t get the point of being a fan – particularly of the sports team kind. The emotional rollercoaster I see friends experience as die hard fans of their childhood football team seems so alien to me that I find it tough to understand. How could you become so excited or worried about your teams performance that you don’t eat for three days before their big match? Or risk getting fired because you must take leave to watch a game?
Spending thousands of euros to travel and watch a live final is probably worth the expense if you are into the exhilaration at an important game, but to spend the whole trip biting down your fingernails or distraught because of a result is beyond me. And what to say about the behaviour at the game?! Some of these fans become so engrossed that it seems like their life depended on the outcome. It’s more likely that the excitement would give you a heart attack, unless you’ve just bet your home on the outcome; that perhaps, could justify your behaviour!
I get the camaraderie, the excuse to meet up with friends and a few beers to watch a game. I get the sense of belonging that social human beings crave and get through fan-hood. I get the ‘uniform’ and the ‘anthems’ that create the sense of participation and team spirit. I just can’t see why someone would be upset by something they have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL OVER.
You see, to me, being a fan is pointless. I can’t get upset or excited by the actions of anyone else’s effort. Appreciation I get. Amazement at their performance and skill, I do. But to curse at a referee’s decision or a coaches selection of play is beyond me. If I knew the game enough to criticise a decision or claim I’d do things differently is fine, but to get an ulcer because someone else decided it was an offside, to me is nonsense.
I deal with stress by a simple process.
Level 1 Can I control the outcome? – if yes, then I will do my best to get the result I desire.
Level 2 Can I influence the outcome? – if yes, then I will make an effort to encourage the result I desire.
Level 3 If neither of the above is true, then I accept that it is beyond me and try to stop worrying about it.
(‘try to’ being the operative words!)
The same applies to many of the situations I encounter that could cause stress, emotion and worry. Otherwise life would be overwhelming. So being a fan is not for me. But I simply love watching them get all worked up about that leather inflatable they call a football!
Or else… perhaps I just don’t get it… We are all wired differently, so perhaps I’m the one who’s missing out on all the fun!