“Just a Game?”…I Wish

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Us sports fans are sick. We really are. I’m talking about the die-hards, not the ones who just tune in for the big games. There is something totally irrational about letting the outcome of a game affect one’s mood for an entire day, week, etc. Why do we care so much?

In a way I envy those who can simply say, “It’s just a game.” I know my life would be much less stressful, much more productive, and probably more enriched if I could heed that philosophy. But at this point, having been a sports fanatic for nearly a quarter of a century, having worked in sports in various capacities for almost a decade, it would be just about impossible to brush off any game of consequence involving one of my teams.

It’s certainly not a coincidence that I’m writing this the day after my favorite football team, the New York Giants, suffered what can be considered the worst single-game collapse in NFL history, surrendering a 21-point lead to the Philadelphia Eagles with about seven-and-a-half minutes to go in the game. I don’t need to rehash any more of the details. Anyone who happens to be reading this probably knows how it went down, and besides, it’s already painful enough.

In a strange way, this kind of mirrors what my favorite baseball team (my favorite team in all of sports), the Mets, did in 2007 and to a lesser extent in 2008. The Mets’ collapses in those years were slow deaths. The Giants-Eagles game was the rip-the-band-aid-off equivalent.

It’s moments like these where I wish I didn’t care so much. I had nothing to do with it. Hell, I was about 3,000 miles away from the debacle. Not one person in the Giants’ organization knows who I am or that I’ve supported the team for the last 20+ years. During my worst days no one on the Giants was miserable because of something I completely screwed up. If it weren’t for geographical or hereditary reasons I would have no interest in the Giants.

For me to be crushed because a bunch of millionaires crumbled against another group of millionaires in different colored jerseys sounds crazy. But then again, there are people like me all over the world; people that live and die with their teams. Just how did this sickness spread so far and wide?

It’s easy to ponder all this after a horrendous loss. But believe it or not, I’ve asked these questions after the best moments too. When the Giants won the Super Bowl in the 2007 season I was obviously elated and could not wipe the smile off my face for at least 24 hours after the game ended. But a few days later I admit I thought to myself, “Why exactly am I so thrilled? I didn’t do anything.”It’s not as if at the victory parade in New York one the players thanked me during his speech. I don’t exist as far my teams are concerned, yet these guys have the power to either make me feel like I won the lottery or feel like I’m at a funeral.

It’s too simple and completely inaccurate to say the fans aren’t important. We all knows sports wouldn’t exist without them. And a home advantage can be huge, especially in key moments. But fans are vital to other forms of entertainment too. Without fans, there would not be concerts or movies or Broadway shows.

But there is a huge difference in those forms of entertainment and sports. If you see a bad movie, you’re probably disappointed, maybe a little annoyed. And you’ll tell your friends not to see it. A band plays a horrendous show, you’re pissed. But there’s no real equivalent with those types of performances to what the Giants did yesterday. It’s an empty feeling for me, with DeSean Jackson adding that little extra knife twisting into my heart as he tight roped the goal line with the clock showing all zeros yesterday.

If the Giants win next week, they are in the playoffs. That would take a lot of the sting away. And if that happens, I’ll surely be in a good mood Sunday night. But if they lose? Well, it’s just a game, right? I wish.

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