I've been very lucky as a sports fan, actually. The L.A. Dodgers won it all in 1988 when I was ten years old, and their MVP was the pitcher Orel Hershiser, who set a record for shutout innings that year and happened to go to my church. :) The Dodgers also starred in John R. Tunis' classic sports novels for kids, so I enjoyed that in junior high, although I didn't know why they were the "Brooklyn Dodgers". Ancient history. I read Walter Farley books too (the Black Stallion and all his friends) and he would mention racing in the famous Santa Anita Derby which is run every year at the racetrack just a few miles from my home. In high school I lost interest in sports until the 1996 Olympics when the American women won team gold in gymnastics and I got into gymnastics in a big way. That fall I went to Caltech for my freshman year and became a member of Lloyd House, and it turned out that one of my fellow Lloydies was Tessa Miller, the sister of Shannon Miller who was caption of that team, and Tessa had a few extra tickets to a gymnastics exhibition, so I got to sit in the third row and see the U.S. women perform live, fresh from their gold medal win. Then again I fell away from sports, except for a diverting stint on the Caltech foil and épée teams during which I lettered in fencing just for showing up. Then a few years after college I flipped on the TV and there were the Lakers playing the Spurs in the 2002 playoffs, trying to win their third championship in a row. So my dad and I rooted for them and they got their threepeat. But I hadn't forgotten those Spurs... I liked them, especially David Robinson. They were like-able. I decided to root for them from then on. And whaddya know-- they took revenge the very next year, beat the Lakers and won the championship in 2003. And again in 2005. And again in 2007, although I was on a conversion high then and barely noticed. The sports hiatus continued long enough for me to miss the Spurs' extremely disappointing first-round exit last season. Then this year I started watching them again.
All right, that explains why I'm the world's luckiest sports fan, but I was going to tell you why I'm the lamest. It's because I don't enjoy watching sports. At least, not when I'm rooting for someone. It just isn't fun for me; I'm so nervous and if my team loses I feel so bad, and even if my team wins I feel kinda sorry for the gallant losers, and if it's something like ice skating or gymnastics, well, good night-- I'm petrified any time they're about to leap or spin or jump or flip, lest they fall. I guess there are those who thrive on the competition, who really enjoy the fact that it's all on the line and the beloved team might win and cover itself in glory, or lose and go home in disgrace. But I can't bear it. Regular season games, maybe, but playoffs? It's too much. Why am I even a sports fan? It's because I read touchy-feely articles about the players and then I care about them and want to see them win.
So this is what I do: I set the DVR. I wait till I'm sure the game must be over. I jump on the internet and check the score. If the Spurs have lost, I quietly delete the game from the DVR and never speak of it again. If they've won, I crow around the house and enjoy the victory at my leisure. I accept the joy of being a sports fan, but not the suffering. Fans of certain teams will find their rewards in Heaven, but as for me, I tell you the truth, I have already received my reward in full.
Oh, the Spurs were seventh-seeded in the West this year-- a few more losses and they could even have missed the playoffs-- but they're up 2-1 now against the second-seed Mavericks in Round One of the playoffs. This post was inspired by the game they won tonight. I put off checking the score because I was afraid the Mavs would take it and I wanted to live with the uncertainty and the possibility of a win for just a little longer. I haven't much hope the Spurs will win it all this year; they have the same three stars that they had for their last three championships, and well, basketball players have to get old sometime. But there's always hope, and so I set my DVR. :)