Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.
Yes, and it is a world of pain. At times, I’m delusional enough to think that I, by myself, can jinx a game by watching it live. Let’s just also say that I’ve been reduced to ugly crying accompanied by legit sadness that sometimes persists for days (I’m looking at you 2011 NBA Finals and 2012 Summer Olympics Canada vs. US Women’s Soccer). I’ve witnessed enough epic meltdowns (see this year’s NHL playoffs Leafs vs Bruins Game 7 and most Raptors 4th Quarters) to develop a paranoid “no good shit ever happens to my teams” complex.
But for the heavy bouts of emotional drainage, there are glimpses of epic moments that have precipitated into awesome flashbulb memories, making this whole sports fandom thing? Totally worth it.
The very first team I started following was the Raptors, or as I lovingly call them from time to time, the Toronto Craptors (a family member once said that being able to berate your own team is a sign that you truly love them; don’t ask me the psychology behind this, I just agreed with her and emphatically nodded along). The Raps – as I also lovingly call them – were in their glory days when I joined the fandom courtesy of my brother-in-law. Vince Carter would light it up almost every night with his explosive dunks, buzzer beaters and general athleticism. He and the rest of the team were so much fun to watch and the city ate it up. Vince put the baby Toronto Raptors on the basketball map; people (Jay-Z!) began to take this Canadian team seriously in the NBA.
His departure from Toronto is still a raw wound for many fans (some still boo him when he returns to play in our arena). It’s been like a really bad break-up for both parties; some say neither Toronto nor Vince have been the same since he left. Investing in a sports team (even if not for a long time) can elicit some pretty visceral and sometimes ugly emotions. The pain felt from losing a game, a player; a championship game, a franchise player, can be really real just as the elation felt from a positive result can be unparalleled.
And just as sports polarizes emotions, it polarizes people; one could also say it unifies. Fandom psychology is fascinating. Fandom keeps life interesting and its essence is nicely conveyed in the wise words of Abed Nadir: “I just like liking things.”