Sports Fans: We Just Need Somebody to Love

“I don’t feel the sickness yet, but it’s in the post, that’s for sure. I’m in the limbo at the moment. Too ill to sleep, too tired to stay awake…but the sickness is on its way. Sweat, chills, nausea, pain and craving. Need like nothing I’ve ever known will soon take hold of me. It’s on its way.”

-“Trainspotting”

Yep, that pretty much sums up the post-Super Bowl life of your average hardcore sports fan. I know–some people just don’t get it.

For us, the big game is the defining event of the year. When the clock hits three zeros and the confetti rains down, no matter the outcome, it’s a bittersweet moment for us. The game’s conclusion marks the end of five months of pure bliss, and ushers us into the winter doldrums of the sporting year–too late for football and too early for the NHL and NBA to be truly important, still two months away from baseball season, five months from Tyson-Lewis II, and 86 days from the NFL Draft (and yes, I’m perfectly aware that I’m pathetic).

Sure, we still have basketball and hockey, plus the occasional tennis tournament, but it’s just not the same without another sport or two to watch. The end of football season is like losing a child–only worse.

(Since Monday, I’ve been dangerously close to exploding with anxiety–and that’s not too healthy for someone with obsessive compulsive disorder.)

Those outside of sports fandom can’t begin to comprehend what it’s like. We happen to have an inclination–nay, a need–to root for someone. It’s not a choice we make; it’s part of our very being.

What can I say? We’re a competitive people.

Much like alcoholics may guzzle a bottle of cough syrup if they can’t find any booze, sports fans can find anything to root for, just as long as it feeds our habit.

Growing up in the South, my best friend and I were unfortunately raised in the land where auto racing was king. As he and I were both of sound mind, we never bought into this so-called “sport” and, in fact, held a strong distaste for it.

Yet both of us still had a favorite NASCAR driver, and we both checked the paper every Monday morning to check out the weekend’s results. And don’t you doubt for a second that when my boy Mark Martin won a race, there was always an extra spring in my step, despite the fact that I rarely turned on the TV to check out the race for myself.

These days I’ve become a Tony Stewart fan, not just because he’s injected some life into the most redundant three-hour phenomenon on television, but for the simple fact that I know–if presented with such an opportunity–he would kick Jeff Gordon’s ass.

You see that? We will find anything and anyone to put our name behind–and we’ll make up reasons why.

Since its inception, I’ve never been a fan of Major League Soccer (hell, I’m a true-blue American, aren’t I?). But I couldn’t very well call myself a sports fan if I didn’t at least have a favorite team. And since my dad’s from Dallas, and since they have got pretty nice unis, I’m officially a die-hard Dallas Burn fan. Just don’t expect me to be able to name anyone of the roster.

A few years back, I checked out the Belmont Stakes on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Despite 60:1 odds (or something like that), I decided to cheer for–and put money on–a horse named Rock & Roll. Why? Well…because I like the song, that’s why.

Turns out there was a reason for those 60:1 odds, but hey–I’m a Rock & Roll fan for life.

My favorite Olympic synchronized swimming couple is Virginie Dedieu & Myriam Lignot of France. What the hell do I know about synchronized swimming?

My favorite figure skaters were always Kristi Yamaguchi and Kurt Browning. Do you think I’d be caught dead watching figure skating?

I was crushed with the retirement of Bill Kazmeier, one of the all-time greats of the guilty pleasure of all guilty pleasures–say it with me now–the World’s Strongest Man Competition.

I had 50 bucks on Barry Williams over Danny Bonaduce during the inaugural Celebrity Boxing, and 20 more on Tonya Harding over Paula Jones. I was a big-time Gervase supporter on the original Survivor (he was cheated out of that million bucks), I’m pulling for Sarah to win Joe Millionaire’s heart, and when it comes to the age-old debate, Ginger or Mary-Anne…well, that’s easy. It’s Mary-Anne without a second thought.

I’ll take Chevy over Ford, Pepsi over Coke, Kelly over Justin and the Smurfs over the Flinstones. I pull for The Rock in the ring and Hermann Maier on the slopes, and when it comes time for the America’s Cup, it’s “Mascalzone Latino” all the way.

Why? Well I can’t quite explain, but people like us just can’t help it. If there’s a winner and a loser, you can bet good money we’ve got an opinion one way or the other.

And now that football season’s gone and left us, we’ve got to find other ways to quench our competitive thirst.

Say what you will about sports fans–say that we’re too obsessed with winning, or that we reek of self-importance or that our excessive favoritism is simply childish. That’s all fine with me.

But put the two of them in a ring together, and I’ll bet my dad could beat up your dad.

Chris welcomes angry letters about the merits of NASCAR and professional soccer at [email protected]