Why We Watch

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It’s common knowledge among our friends and family that I am the sports person, and my husband is not. He loves to play sports, and particularly loves outdoor activities such as camping, hunting and mountain biking, but traditional team sports, even though he wrestled and played football in high school (and was really good)…not his thing! A running joke in our house goes something like this: When Stan is asked about sports at any gathering, his response is usually “I don’t know, ask my wife!” Kind of a funny way of punching stereotypes in the face.

But, last night, Stan asked me a question, in all seriousness, after we watched about 3 minutes of the Broncos getting their butts kicked, yet again, by the Bengals of all teams! (I can say that, I’m from the ‘Nati).

Here was the question: Why do you watch when you know what’s going to happen?
My simple answer was “hope”. Not the grander scale of hope in life, but hope as in wishful thinking. Bengals fans, and now Bronco fans, are just hoping the tide will change. Grant it, the Bronco fans are relatively new to this feeling, but as a Bengals fan growing up, or better yet, Browns fans, there is something inside that thinks maybe this player, this game, this season might be different.
His follow-up questions were fair. “But if you know they are going to lose, what’s the point?”, and “People let it ruin their day when their team loses, despite knowing that’s likely the outcome.” And of course, there may have been a comment about wasting time in there too. 🙂
But the more I thought about this, I thought about culture, tradition, social networks and emotions.
Hang with me here, but I grew up in the Midwest, where sports – college and pro – are king. We set our watches by it, never missed a game, and cheered, despite PERPETUAL disappointment. I am old enough to remember when the Reds swept the A’s in 4 games in the 1990 World Series, however.
I idolized Larkin!
Stan grew up in rural Colorado. College sports is not nearly as big here – I know CU and CSU fans, but face the truth! Plus he grew up in an environment where the mountains were his playground. There is a saying here in Colorado “The mountains are calling, and I must go!” Playing, versus watching, was paramount, whether recreation or sport.
For me, the emotion, the fun of rivalries, the not knowing, the opportunity to see people use their God-given abilities, the sponsor trends/new technology/etc. etc., these are the things I love about watching sports.
Growing up, it was just what we did. What we talked about. What we bonded over. What we emulated. Not right or wrong. It just was.

My point here is everyone’s upbringing and environment is different. Being raised as a traditional team sports junkie, I’m grateful my 5 year old loves to mountain bike and just accompanied Stan on getting their first buck together. I do ascribe to the belief that doing is much more valuable than watching, no matter what the activity, but balance is key.

Bring on the jerky!
It boils down to creating memories, no matter what they look like, or how you define it. And, part of the fun is learning what others enjoy and why. I’m grateful for a husband who respects my passions and has interest enough to understand. And I’m grateful he at least agreed to sign the contract pledging this allegiance to the Ohio State Buckeyes upon marrying into our family.
It’s OSU/xICHIGAN week (Go Bucks!). But most importantly, it’s Thanksgiving, and if we give it just a few minutes, I bet we can all think of an impressive list of things we can be thankful for in our own lives.

This is Stoll on Sports. Remember, it’s not joy that makes us thankful. It’s gratitude that makes us joyful! Happy Thanksgiving!

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