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Call The Manbulance Before You Give Up On Sports

Call The Manbulance Before You Give Up On Sports

Check with older people, in this case the 40+ sports fans, and you won’t feel the lunacy of the field storming younger fans.

Why? Because they’ve grown up? They don’t have time? They’re burned out? Or is it something else?

If you have a favorite team, you’re a fan for life. That’s the deal. Maybe it’s your dad’s team, or the team your dad hated. Either way, it’s your team now.

But the flame seems to fade. You’ve got embers and you don’t know why.

I solve the mystery for you, but take a look at the ride down first.

Young fans, from middle school to age thirty, use their teams for a competitive edge. They’re winners if their team wins. They’re stars if their favorite players win individual awards. Friends ask them about the team as if they have a line tapped into the coach/owner phone system.

These fans feel connected.

And that’s how it should be. Success empowers sports fans in places they don’t expect. The miracle of the band wagon fan is that they feel more thrilled than anyone. Who doesn’t love that reaction?

With young fans, birthdays and Christmas are never a challenge for gifts. Wrap up a team shirt, a player’s jersey, or hat, and you’ve answered their prayers. Paying a $120 for a league approved jersey they’ll eventually out grow might seem steep, but years later you can frame the forgotten apparel for the double dip.

Every room needs a jersey on the wall to tie it together.

The dark side of extreme fandom comes with the team that starts high and sinks lower year after year. This confuses young sparkies still pumped up on the early success. They’ve still got a full charge for the team, why do the players seem so average, so unmotivated? For answers cloaked in mystery and excuses contact the Oakland Raiders or Dallas Cowboys.

As the years flow along, sports fans often take time out from watching games, betting on games, and attending games, to get married. It helps if they marry someone with the same team allegiance, or at least a fellow sports fan. If that doesn’t happen, one of the two will blame themselves when their team loses and the other won’t understand.

In the sports fan/non-fan mixed marriage, there’s one way to tell when the ground shifts. They won’t have to tell you. If you want to know about your friends’ sports relationship, check their DVR. Does it show more than recorded games? Is there some Masterpiece Theater and travel shows in there?

The All-In sports fan only knows one way.

A recent story about the Seattle Super Bowl: An older woman sat at the fifty yard line next to an empty seat. The fan next to her asked about the seat. She said she and her husband never missed a Seahawk game, but he died recently. The fan next to her asked why she didn’t invite a friend or family member to join her since she had an extra seat for the Super Bowl. She answered, “Oh, they’re still at the funeral.”

How do good fans turn bad? One reason stands taller than the rest.

It starts when young fans see themselves in their team, in the players. They know they could be that guy. In fact, they plan on growing up to be that guy like the kid in the commercial with Cam Newton who will grow up, take Cam’s job, and becomes his mother’s favorite player.

Then he warms up his arm.

Good fans are former high school football players who still have NFL dreams even if they didn’t play in college. Actually, college ruins those dreams. If they weren’t good enough to play for a bad college team, they’d know they’d never make the big time. High school players still know they could have been somebody if not for the coach, the trainer, or the school board president’s son who played ahead of them.

In other words, they got screwed out of their roster spot and make up for it with rabid fan antics. Then they wake up to the reality. After witnessing enough incredible hits, enough horrific injuries, and seeing heroes reveal their life challenges after football, they move away from the couch. They stop hiding the remote and locking the television stations onto ESPN.

Instead, they learn to garden, or maybe buy a saw and build a new bench to sit on.

These people eventually look in the mirror and wonder why they wasted so much time watching sports. Is this you?

Equal doses of cultural enlightenment mixed with MMA ass kicking is a healthy mix, but not when enlightenment gets more play than ever. Before you give up and slide into the land of ‘why bother’, take an extra shot of enthusiasm.

Since these are the days of the NFL Combine where The League harvests fresh college players, see how you measure up. How many times can you bench press 225 lbs? What is your vertical jump? How fast is your forty? Call it the Rich Eisen effect. (My numbers are 3 reps, 12 inches, and holding off the forty until dry weather.)

Before you give up sports and beers for Downton Abbey and Rick Steves, find a middle ground. If the Winter Olympics have done nothing else but show Russia still has trouble losing, it did show a sport to embrace.

As the great Romanian coach Bela Karolyi reminds America, “You can do it.”

(originally posted on







About David Gillaspie
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