Let me first take you back to a Sunday night in February 2002. It’s way passed my sixth grade bedtime but it goes unnoticed because it’s the biggest sport event of the year – Super Bowl XXXVI. Our beloved Patriots are taking on the highly favored Rams. David vs. Goliath. Our kicker, Adam Vinatieri, is lined up to kick a game winning field goal that would deliver us the first championship in our team’s history.
Vinateiri’s kick is up. It’s good and we WIN! My dad and I jump up in elation. The sweet taste of victory that had eluded our Boston sports teams for years was now ours! At that time in my life, there was no better feeling in the world.
Being a sports fan was a staple in my life growing up in American suburbia. If you weren’t watching all the games you were seen as an outcast. You don’t like sports? What’s the matter with you? Luckily for me it was something that came naturally and that I enjoyed. I was a diehard Boston sports fan throughout childhood and into college. I was so enthralled with sports during this time period that I even chose to major in it for college… Sport Management. I wanted sports to be my life!
Wow… how things have changed.
A quick five years out of college and watching sports is an afterthought for me now. If it weren’t for my sport-obsessed roommates and coworkers I probably would be disconnected all together.
It’s not that I don’t like sports or competition. I still play sports recreationally and just ran my first marathon last month. So I definitely have not lost my competitive nature… In fact I feel that I’m more competitive now than ever before.
What it comes down to is that I just simply don’t care about being a “fan” anymore. It doesn’t do anything for me. I’ve lost the compassion toward watching professional sports that I had for the first 20 years of my life. Let me try to explain why…
To me being a fan embodies passivity. We watch from the couch and yell as more talented people compete for glory. We play no part in the outcome and often go through huge emotional swings or become irrational critics when games don’t go our team’s way. We’re on the sidelines.
Of course, I do have great respect for professional athletes, as they are masters of their craft, but by watching every play and idolizing them how are we ourselves growing? We’re not. We’re wasting hours watching others as they live out their dreams and we sit idly.
Now my point here is not to bash the die-hard sports fans. After all, I was once one of them. I understand sports are a form of entertainment and there are social aspects of it that are entrenched in our society.
My point is to bring light to the fact that if we let sports fandom (or any fandom for that matter) consume our lives then we are losing valuable time watching other people live out their dreams while ours may be slipping away. We need to change this mentality of being on the sidelines. Why watch the game when we can play in our own?
We all have an arena that we can thrive in. Find your own arena and you’ll have the chance to live out your own dreams. What are you best at? What’s your muse? What’s your calling?
I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt, which inspired this post and encouraged me to step into my own arena:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. “