Give Me an ‘Oh’ OH! Give me an ‘And’ AND! Give me a ’27’ 27!

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Inner dialogue voice 1: Hey, hey, wake up.

Inner dialogue voice 2: You’re going to remind me that I haven’t written anything in a while and I’m falling behind aren’t you.

IDV1: If I lie and say no will that get you more motivated?

IDV2: Sigh, go pop me some popcorn and while you’re gone I’ll remind myself that not every post needs to be an epic treatise on the human condition.

 

It’s a classic conundrum in baseball. In the history of the game there have only been 23 perfect games from pitchers. If you’re at the ballpark and the opposing team’s pitcher is throwing a perfect game into the 7th or 8th inning, do you keep cheering for your team? You have a chance to witness something special. You would be able to say you were there. You saw it. All it means is not cheering for the team you love. Do you set your team colors aside for that? 

Do you ever set your team colors aside?

Option A: No of course not! You deny that other team their chance at history. Screw the numbers and let the record be damned. You’re there because you love your team and to set that aside for even a second is an act that puts you in the company of Judas, Brutus, Ephialtes, Benedict Arnold, and the guy who takes off before it’s his turn to buy the next round of drinks.

Option B: If the other team is pitching a perfect game then odds are we aren’t going to win, and seeing something that has been done so rarely is pretty amazing. If it looks like we can make a comeback then I’m right back on board with everyone, but for now let’s see something special!

Last weekend I went to a basketball game between the Detroit Pistons and the Philadelphia 76ers. I even brought a friend along and I promised her she had a chance to see a record setting game. The 76ers were the home team and they had lost 26 games in a row. That tied an NBA record. You could hear fans chattering in line in an excited way about seeing the record broken. There were even fans with signs that read “Witness 27!” These were fans of the home team who had seen so many miserable performances that they figured if their team had been this bad, it may as well be the worst ever. There were also fans who were still cheering for a win in the face of the all the odds from the outset. Plenty of both option A and option B present that rainy Saturday night.

As you might imagine the person who shouts option A doesn’t consider the option B person a true fan. The option B person likely thinks the option A person takes the game way too seriously and needs to lighten up a bit before that pulsing forehead vein pops. The key to remember is that both of these people are at the game for entirely different reasons.

There are those who use sports as a time they can simply zone out and enjoy something that has nothing to do with the rest of their lives. If their team wins that is fine, but overall they got to kick back with a beer, some buddies, and nothing else in the world could intrude for a couple hours. They leave a game feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever else it was that occupied them during the day.

There are those who take a more personal angle. Their team is who they are. If their team loses it is a personal failure on their part. If their team wins it is ecstasy. This could be because the rest of their life is awful, their boss yells at them as they fail at work, their spouse refuses any level of emotional or physical connection as they fail at home, but maybe they can get this one thing right and if they bet their emotional well-being on this game they’ll at least have a shot at winning. Alternatively, it could be because they need an outlet and society doesn’t leave some people many acceptable places for the kinds of emotional outbursts you’re allowed while your team is playing.

I’ve given two angles, but there are obviously thousands more. The take away is simple. The two extremes have a strong distaste for each other and their fighting makes all of sports less appealing to most people who fall somewhere in the middle. Seems like an elegant analogy for the rest of life doesn’t it? It’s one of the many reasons I love sports. You can tell a lot about a person based upon how and why they watch their entertainment medium of choice. You could take it all a step further and consider the implications of what people on the same team shouting at each other because of perceived purity levels does for a political or societal movement, but that’s for another post.

The 76ers were up by 10 at the end of the first quarter. The crowd was still skeptical. By halftime the lead had grown to 19 and the crowd happily cheered their team. All of the slights of the past were temporarily forgiven, but people feared the collapse there was still plenty of time for. At the end of the 3rd quarter the hapless 76ers who everyone expected to crumble horrifically as they’d done all season were up 98-68. My friend and I went home. No need to stay and watch the fourth quarter. We wouldn’t get to see history, and that’s what we had gone for. Final score 76ers 123 Pistons 98.

As always, questions, comments, and concerns are welcome. Answers are guaranteed.

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