Identity and Fandom

I have come to the conclusion that one of the reasons I don’t like watching team sports is that I don’t want to develop any sort of identification with a team. When you watch a team – the Chicago Cubs, for instance – you can easily get caught up in the action and start feeling like part of the team (even if you never sit in the dugout). You feel as if the players are friends of yours. You even call them by their first names; not that they would ever know who you are.

“Hey, let’s see if Sammy can hit another homer!!!”

“Moises sure made a good catch!!!”

You wear Cubs clothing, a Cubs hat, wave around a Cubs flag, get a license plate holder that says “Go Cubs!” and, in general, start merging your life and the life of the Cubs. Unfortunately, this is – especially with the Cubs – a very poor idea. Because, and I say this gently, the Cubs suck. Even when they are good, they suck. What kind of a team can’t get into the World Series at least once in 50 years? At least not a team from a city with the 3rd highest population in the United States. You’d think that a city such as Chicago with its colorful history and diverse people could at least field a reasonable team. But no, they can’t, and the one year I decide to pay attention and enjoy the games and get caught up in Cubs Fever, they blow it all in game 6 and then go on to splat in the crushing game 7 defeat.

And now, because I have identified with this team, have decided to be a Cubs “fan”, I feel down and depressed and betrayed. And this makes no sense at all. It’s just a game, just a team, there’s always next year. But for another year, the Chicago Cubs are losers, and this time I lost with them.

It wouldn’t be so bad except that so much time is spent watching these games. From what I know, there are approximately 162 games in the regular season. If you spend – conservatively – 4 hours watching each game (as the hardcore, diehard fan you are), that’s almost 650 hours in a year. To put that into perspective, I have seen approximately 500 movies in my entire life and at 3 hours (very conservatively) each that would be 1,500 hours watching movies in MY ENTIRE LIFE. A hardcore fan will eclipse that in less than 3 years, and that’s just baseball. That doesn’t even take into account the sport crossovers into basketball, hockey, and football. I don’t know but that just stands out as a colossal waste of time. But that’s just me. If I had that many free hours, I’d probably spend all of it beating my friend Chris in Unreal Tournament 2003. At least then I’d actually get to PLAY in the game…