By now, you’ve seen all of these videos. Or this one. If you’re a Patriots fan, this one below should be your favorite, as it is mine. (Skip ahead to about 7 minutes to see the roller coaster of emotions that the fans experienced.)
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. In sports, we usually use that definition to critique dumb decisions made by teams:
“Why in the world are the Bruins still playing Adam McQuaid? Don’t they know he sucks?”
“Why do NFL teams go for 30+ year old quarterbacks who we already know can’t take a team to the promised land, instead of taking a flier on an unknown guy?”
“How could a Red Sox fan actually predict that Clay Buchholz will pitch 200 innings and be an ace for the entire season? Haven’t they noticed his yearly DL stint?”
“Why did the Bruins give Adam McQuaid $11 million over 4 years???????!!!!! Don’t they know he sucks????”
(If you can’t tell, I’m not the biggest fan of Adam McQuaid.)
You know what is the one aspect of sports in which we don’t ask enough questions about people’s sanity. Sports. Being a diehard sports fan inherently encompasses the definition of insanity better than anything that’s actually rooted within the game.
In what other aspect of our lives do we allow ourselves to get kicked in the face like the fans in the videos that I posted above, only to come back and be ready to get kicked in the face again? The best metaphor for the behavior of sports fans despite the negative effects is that of drugs. I am not an aficionado of hard drugs by any means — after all, I was born in Boston, so alcohol is my drug of choice — but the affects that drugs often have on people are evident. When you’re at a really low point, you realize what the drug does to you, and you realize that your life would be better without it. Ultimately, though, the addiction can’t stop without a serious awakening and altering of our mental state.
While crippling drug use is obviously more serious than being a sports fan, if you think I’m going too far by suggesting that being a sports fan is an addiction, you’re wrong. Once you’re a diehard fan, you’re hooked. (I include myself in this 100%.)
There are countless times where we’re all beaten down as sports fans, but we know that we’re gonna come back every single season in hopes that it’ll get better. Lions fans can watch something like the ridiculous non-penalty call when the refs picked up the flag last January in Dallas, then watch Aaron Rodgers seemingly throw a football 587 yards for a Hail Mary on their home turf… and then come back in 2016 and say “This is the year!!!” Tell me, in what way does that not fit the definition of insanity?
Even in Boston, where we’ve had 9 championships this century, we’ve had our fair share of moments that should make us wonder “Why do we care so much about these sports?” There’s the obvious fact that the Red Sox had some of the most loyal fans in the world despite not winning a World Series for 86 years, but we’ve been through a lot of heartbreak in the successful 21st century, as well. In fact, there have been the same number devastating playoff/season-ending losses than there have been titles. The 2003 ALCS, 2006 AFCCG, 2007 Super Bowl, 2010 3-0 collapse vs. the Flyers, 2010 NBA Finals, 2011 Red Sox September death (That’s basically what happened, the Red Sox just keeled over and died during that month), 2011 Super Bowl, 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, and 2014 2nd Round vs. the Habs during the rivalry’s highest point (2011-2014, by my count). You could even throw in the 2004 Bruins loss to the Habs during a HEATED series (screw Mike Ribiero), losing the reigning MVP during Week 1 of the 2008 NFL season, and mayyybe the Pats loss to the Ravens in 2012. of course, a championship makes all of the heartbreeakworthwhile, but the point is that sports always provide us with tons of opportunities to ask ourselves “Why do we do this again?”
Because we’re addicted. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that being a diehard sports fan is inherently a bad thing. Sports often provide important benefits to society, especially when children partake in them. Even by simply being fans of the same team, we form a common bond with one another that is valuable in our lives. I can’t tell you how many of my friendships have started by talking sports with the person. The percentage of my friendships that have started through sports is probably embarrassingly high. That’s a way in which the drug addiction metaphor fails, because a sports addiction doesn’t inherently damage one’s life as a whole. And people don’t have to turn into a monster because of sports. I like to think that I’m pretty good at letting my sports emotions dictate the way I treat people in other aspects of my life, and apparently all of Boston has a method of letting out their frustration and put a devastating loss out of their minds. I guess that’s the other way that the drug addiction metaphor falls short, because a drug addiction almost automatically causes others around the addict to be affected. But that doesn’t mean that sports aren’t an addiction.
I wouldn’t trade my status of being a diehard Boston sports fan for anything in the world other than family. Rooting for Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots are a part of me that I have no interest in losing, and it’s a part of who I am. But I also won’t pretend that I could give up being a diehard sports fan if I wanted to. Have you ever heard of someone who says about a substance “I can quit anytime I want to, I just don’t want to”? Yeah, I can’t quit. Good thing that I don’t want to.