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I’m an adult – at least I think I am. I work 9-5, I have a stable job, a good friend group, and a great family. I try to workout a bit and not drink too much alcohol on weekdays. I look forward to the weekends – who doesn’t? You get to relax, drink booze, and party with company you enjoy. If you’re a sports fan, this also means watching your team play on either Saturday or Sunday. As I’ve grown up, I have liked to think that I’ve become a bit more mature about every aspect of my life. Except sports – I just can’t pull away. I just can’t put myself together into a rational human being when I see my teams take the field – as much as I try.
This past weekend, I saw the Badger Football team lose to a 23 point underdog and the Packers tie in one of the wildest, most heart-wrenching games I’ve ever witnessed. While both we’re exhilarating in some fashion, both left me in a puddle of mush afterwards. I screamed at the TV, cursed at the refs, implored my team to victory – helplessly watching on a screen far away. As much as I try to become numb to the expectations, to the things I can’t control, I just can’t. I try to develop a callus – filled with the visceral memories of the teams that have viciously wrecked my insides before. But, hope springs eternal – and then unfortunately plummets off a cliff every season.
Cheering for your favorite team is the ultimate paradox. You get the highest of the highest and the lowest of the lows. Although I know, I know in my heart of hearts, that I have zero, zilch, nada, impact over whether a shot goes in or a receiver catches a ball, I still yell at my TV screen – as if my desire for a positive result can will it into existence. I know I’m being obnoxious, probably even unreasonable. My brain tells me this in the moment but for some reason I just can’t cut it out. In a weekend typically filled with relaxation and fun times, my heart goes into palpitations on NFL Sunday and during 11 a.m. Badger kickoffs. But then every week, I’m reading Twitter, articles, podcasts – everything – to gear myself up for next weekend’s plunge. Regardless of if my team is over-matched or under-performing, I believe the Packers will always pull out a victory, that the Badgers will always cover the spread – until they don’t. Then, my house of cards comes crashing down. Often ruining my Saturday night or Monday morning.
Will I stop cheering for my teams? Can I stop? The answer, for good or for worse, is no. I can’t. I’m too invested in everything at this point. While the rest of my life is somewhat in my control, that feeling of no control – of staring into the unbridled brink that being a sports fan offers – is both exhilarating and excruciating. It’s why people shimmy up greased light poles when their team wins and burn jerseys when their team loses. There’s really no in-between. As I’ve gained more clarity about who I am, I’ve realized that this is just part of who I am. So, even though both the Badgers and the Packers are slim shots to win it all this year, I’ll still be living play by play with them every weekend from now until January, until they rip my heart out once again. I’ve come to realize that’s just part of the journey. Unless you’re a Patriots or Alabama fan..