A friend and I were going to see an MLS game in Toronto with two others. One of the others was an NHL hockey player. We were eating and relaxing at my friend's place before the game watching sports update on TV. We were commenting on this and that and my friend says to the guys, "Little loves sports and knows a lot about sports." So myself and the hockey player got into chatting and he asks what sports I play. Oh I run, bike, play a little tennis, shoot hoops in my backyard, you know. So you don't play any organized sports? Not really, anymore. So you're just a sports fan?
JUST a sports fan? Ok, so I'm not the quarterback on a local co-ed football team, or the girl who scores 3 goals a game in soccer (like a couple of amazing girls I know), and I'm not the co-captain of my basketball team anymore. But I think I understand more about sports than I ever did and understand more about what makes certain players the greatest and certain teams the greatest upsets of all times. Not only that, but I'm thinking to myself when this guy makes his comment, would you like to play in an empty stadium? Fans pay your salary! He wasn't a bad guy. I got the sense he just felt entitled(?) to know more about sports or was the most leading authority on them in the group because he was a professional athlete.
It got me thinking about what it means to be a sports fan. A small percentage of the population actually has the physique, skills, and mental strength to make it in a professional sporting arena, whatever the sport. The rest of us are just fans. The rest of us read about it in the daily paper, obsessively discuss who will win and what it means, and look forward to that evening or day of the week when we head out to our local pub and meet with like-minded people to watch the games on full volume. Anyone who knows me, knows not to call me on a Sunday from September to February. If you want to see me, you know where I'll be.
My brother is not a huge sports fan, but he knows I am. So in addition to joining me for nachos and beers on gamedays (he's more of a nacho and beer fan), he sent me this article not long ago. I like the idea that one's sporting clubs become a life constant. You can always feel the change of seasons with sports. I never want summer to be over, but there's something about the anticipation of NFL football in August and the start of the season in September, that makes me less afraid of the change of weather and activities to come.
I looked in my closet one day where I have all my jerseys and other sporting gear hanging. I noticed something I hadn't before when contemplating or wearing each jersey individually. ALL my teams have, amazingly, the same or at least 2 colours in common:
Hockey--Calgary Flames--Red, black, yellow; Team Canada--Red, white
Football--Atlanta Falcons--Red, black, white
Soccer--Toronto FC--Red, white, grey; Real Madrid--Black, white; España--Red, yellow, blue
Basketball--Chicago Bulls--Red, black, white
Baseball--Chicago Cubs--Red, white, blue
I'm not a huge baseball fan and only adopted the Cubbies last year while in Chicago and after falling in love with that city. And I love their logo. And by the looks of it, their colours? Can we have allegiances based on colour? Based on a city we like? Are there patterns in our sports fandom? The article would suggest that this could be true. It creates a constant for us. The first teams I remember being a fan of we're the Mustangs (Red, white, yellow) and the Rangers (Red, white, blue)...both from my hometown.
I have many friends who can tell you everything about their hockey team. How many Stanley Cups they've won (damn those Habs fans), or those of us with only one Cup, where we were when they won the Cup, and every detail of the game. When the Flames win again (this year), it will create a new era in my fan life. My new adult Flames fan life. But that can wait. In my yearly cycle of fandom, I'll see the Falcons through to February 7, 2010.