On being a sports fan

I was a New York Giants fan in 1978. Anyone else who was a Giants fan back then remembers The Fumble.

I was a Boston Red Sox fan in 1986. Anyone else who was a baseball fan back then remembers what happened. I was in NYC the night of the 7th game (it was the 6th game which ended with the ball going through Bill Buckner’s legs) giving a chess lecture at the Marshall Chess Club, which was very poorly attended (Game 7 had initially been scheduled for the previous night but had been rained out), and while I was walking home all the car horns started honking and drunk Met fans started spilling out of bars and challenging random passersby like me to agree that the Mets were the greatest (my response: “Great series!”).

I was a New York Knicks fan in 1993, 1994, and 1995. Don’t ask.

I was a New York Yankees fan in 2004. I was at my High School reunion and watching game 3, and as the Yankees ran up the score I got a very bad feeling. I said to my friends in the 7th inning “The Yankees will win this game 19-8 but the Red Sox will come back and win games 4, 5, and 6 because they will be so motivated by this humiliation”. I have witnesses; but I did not predict the Sox would win game 7 as well (which would have given me a lifelong reputation as a wizard) because I remembered 1986.

This year I am following the Giants and the Jets. I am used to disappointment from the Jets, who are legendary for December collapses, but I expected more from the Giants than what happened last night. This is worse than 1978. And I hadn’t thought that was possible.

Is it worth it to get emotionally invested in a team? I have to say yes; the vicarious satisfaction from watching players you have followed and gotten to know earn a championship is not an emotional frill, there is something primal about it, especially if you are a knowledgeable fan who can truly appreciate the excellence displayed by the likes of Larry Bird, Mariano Rivera, or Wayne Gretzky. I am a connoisseur of excellence and make a point of trying to appreciate great human accomplishments in all fields, and to learn from what they have in common. The thrill of watching the Giants beat the 18-0 Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl, and of KNOWING midway through the second quarter that they were going to do it because of my analysis of the way the matchups were playing out, compensates for times like last night.

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About Polymath

Discoverable with effort
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