It's often a sad existence, one that I’m not always proud off. Yet there are moments—though very seldom—of transcendence. When, for a brief period of time, we become bigger than the sport itself and feel as if we are actually a member of our favorite team. In 2004, when the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years, I felt as if I had recorded the final out, that I had batted over .400 for the playoffs, and that I was there celebrating with them on the infield of old Busch Stadium in St. Louis instead of with friends in a cramped college dorm room back in Boston.
When the mere viewing of games on television and in-person are not enough, or to get us through tough times in seasons, we start office softball teams, take pick-up basketball games way too seriously, spend hundreds of dollars on the latest video games to simulate seasons, and even form fantasy leagues.
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So why do we engage in such absurdities? Why do we invest so much financially and emotionally in sports?
Because without these things we may remember that majoring in communications and working as a seller for a major textbook publishing company was not Plan A—playing point guard for an NBA franchise was.
I'm not surprised that many women do not understand this. It's a peculiar and strange devotion, a borderline obsession even. But the next time you are discussing celebrity gossip with a friend consider this: a simple switch of the subject (say from Britney Spears to Travis Hafner) and the predicate (from her never ending fall from grace to his continual drop in on-base percentage) may explain more than any rationalizing I could ever do.
But please, don't blame us. Blame our parents. Or if you have mothered a child, blame yourself. We have been encouraged, if not pushed into, such pursuits, told to dream of becoming the next Tom Brady, LeBron James, or Derek Jeter. No one ever sends an eight-year old outside to play "write the great American novel" or "make an Academy Award winning film." If they did, we would have an entire generation of children arguing in backyards over who got to be Ernest Hemingway or Woody Allen instead of Manny Ramirez or Peyton Manning.
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Now if you'll excuse me, there's a Red Sox game in Kansas City I have to go and watch.