The day after the Buckeyes (THE Ohio State Buckeye Football team) became national champions, BookerFace was blowing up on the newsfeed. One comment stuck out. A friend of mine had posted that it was time to stop using the word 'haters' in conversation. And also 'anything-Nation.' I'm inclined to agree with him (and the title is really more just my way of being a sarcastic twat about it).
But that got me thinking...why are people so passionate when it comes to their sportage? I think that most people tend to forget that the word 'fan' is short for 'fanatic.' And fanatic is just a very nice way of saying 'crazy fucker.' Which...makes sense. I enjoy watching some sports...participating in others, but I wouldn't really call myself a 'fan' of any particular team. I enjoy watching the Buckeyes play and win, but (I get the sense) not nearly as much as some of my friends (and even my own brother). But it's cool. I'm good with it, and for the most part, so are they.
That line of thinking also led in to the why do people say WE won when a team they support wins? Are they on the team? Did they catch the touchdown? I know that form of ownership really cheeses some people off. It doesn't bug me. Not in the least. Not since High School when I was the student Athletic Trainer for many of the varsity teams. When talking about a game I worked, I said we. I was part of the team. I didn't play. But my contributions helped. So, since that point in time, that's a natural thing for me.
The reason, if you're still curious, why the masses do it is simple. Sports are a religion in this country. Think of Football, for example, as Christianity. Each team in whatever 'league' (or sect) you follow is a different denomination. Each denomination has their followers. They have the people high in the 'church' (The elders, clergy and leaders of the church, if you will) that don the uniforms every week and do worship. Service only lasts a few hours. And as with many religions, the merits of another denomination are denounced, derided, ridiculed.
Sometimes a fight breaks out among followers of the different denominations. In some places, just wearing the trappings of one faith are enough to warrant a beat down.
Oh sure, the rules for each denomination are fundamentally the same. Some sects bend them...others break them outright.
People declare loyalty to a sports team for much the same reason they become ensconced in a religion. Mainly for a sense of belonging. The fellowship of like minded individuals. Something to come together for once a week and then talk about, get ready for, and get excited about for the entire week leading up to the 'service.'
It's not really suprising that either one, religion or sports in America, are multi-billiion dollar industries. They provide escape and hope. The dark side of fear, ostracization, drifting sense of never wondering if you got it right with the sect you picked, losing faith in the leaders of your 'church' (I'm looking at you Browns fans). That's the ugly side of relig--er sports.
But take heart. It is, afterall, just a game.