Dear Life: I Give Up. Sincerely, Apathetic Sports Fan

Patrick LairdCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2010

This image is way better in real life than Hi-Def
This image is way better in real life than Hi-Def

The 21st century remains one of those ambivalent time periods where some have perhaps moved on too quickly, leaving history and physical labor in the dust, while others seem determined to stay stubborn and be the anchor to everyone else's sail.

Me? I'm conflicted daily. I'm one of those types that feels like he should have been born in the early 20th century yet see the benefits of technology and utilizes it.

If the early 1900s were a job, it might have recruited like this: strong work ethic required; optimism and enthusiasm a must; dilly-dalliers need not apply. That's probably because my grandfather, a former prisoner of war and all-around workhorse, helped raise me.

I've become somewhat numb to the fact that certain human skills continue to diminish. Like, say, human contact and dealing with issues face-to-face. Just post your problems on Facebook or send a text.

My complaining aside, I felt as if human interest in things not required to be digitized hit a new low when I read Mark Mravic's article entitled Extreme comfort zone of home viewing is impossible to beat (a more fitting title would have been "Dear Life: I Give Up. Sincerely, Apathetic Sports Fan").

I guess I'm an avid sports fan. It consumes my life in more ways than just being a fan. But for most red-blooded Americans, being a fan initiates us to the largest fraternity in the world. It's solidarity, yes, but it's also a human experience soaked in emotions, imagery, and so much more that I just can't put my finger on all of it.

Just as some religions require a pilgrimage, sports has its own sacred journeys. Every year we plan to visit our favorite team's home or some piece of sports history so we can say "I saw it; I experienced it." Heck—for most of us, it is spiritual!

In Mravic's piece, he claims that watching a game at home is a more comfortable and thus more enjoyable experience than actually attending the game. His defense comes in form of a rainy New York Giants-Jets game.

By watching the game at home, he saved time, money, and the discomfort of a balmy and rainy evening sitting huddled with thousands of other vociferous and opinionated New York fans.

Has it really gotten to that point where we'd rather simulate experiences?

Mr. Mravic: I'm sure your high definition flat panel television with surround sound made that game quite realistic. Unfortunately, no matter how advanced it becomes, technology will never replace the human elements we can only get from each other, and in this context, sports.

Had I sat home and watched the Cleveland Indians from the comfort our hotel suite, my dad and I would have never seen Jim Thome hit three home runs from our overpriced nosebleeds. We would have never high-fived so spontaneously that it continued on to other strangers next to us, only to realize that for the first time in my thirteen years, we physically shared an emotion.

Had I sat home and watched from the toasty warmth of our house, we wouldn't have sat on a crowded bus to see the Buffalo Bills play the Miami Dolphins. I wouldn't have froze in the stands while watching my favorite team lose to my hometown Buffalo Bills.

I wouldn't have sat as a young child and experienced the passion of 80,000 fans sitting in freezing weather to cheer on their home team (albeit with some expletive-laced rants) because it represented a part of their grit and hard work. I wouldn't have started to appreciate what I actually had at home instead of coveting everything I saw on TV thinking it was somehow better than where I was or what I had.

Had I sat home and watched from my cushy couch, I wouldn't have seen that final game at Silver Stadium in Rochester, NY, former home of the AAA Red Wings, as proud homegrown fans cried and cheered all in the same breath. I wouldn't have realized that big isn't always better, and that sometimes if you don't experience it for yourself, it's gone before you actually had time to enjoy it.

Had I sat home and watched from my recliner with a cold beer, I wouldn't have been able to tell my kids that I saw Michael Jordan play and score 20 points in a quarter. I wouldn't have witnessed the smile on my brother-in-law's face, a soldier and huge Jordan fan, as he watched Jordan announced while sitting in the free seat that I offered him. I wouldn't have learned as a young adult that giving is actually better than receiving.

Had I sat at home and watched my beloved alma mater Temple University defeat nationally ranked Tennessee on its home court in North Philadelphia, I wouldn't have realized the power sports and generations it can cross and affect.

I wouldn't have driven six hours with one of the kids I coached to sit next to my former coach and stand with them and cheer as a bunch of players we didn't know persevere. I wouldn't have had realized that positive role models don't just affect the next generation, but generations thereafter as they mold their heirs to be the teachers, parents, and leaders.

No, those experiences would not have come within the context of sports. I could have saved a bunch of time. Certainly saved a ton of cash. Although...the life lessons seem few and far between from my 45 degree angled view of the television.

Maybe I would have eventually learned them elsewhere. Consequently, however, should I have learned them in some other realm of life, then that would mean that sport exists only to entertain.

If that is true, then I'll sit right there in my recliner and watch along with Mr. Mravic. I know that is not the case, though. My experiences have proven otherwise.

So I suppose a more suitable title for this piece would be: "Dear Life: I'm All In. Sincerely, A True Sports Fan."