I've wondered why there's been such a negative vibe surrounding some of my favorite teams and athletes this year. I've wondered why I've been sucked into some of the stories so much that I lose focus on some things that are more important. I've also wondered at the hysteria/activism surrounding some of the major stories this year.
--LeBron James' choice to play for Miami and leave his hometown of Cleveland has caused amazing backlash. The people of Cleveland have been burning jerseys, publicly hoping for LeBron to have a career-ending injury, chanting "traitor" as he and his friends enter a restaurant to have a meal. . etc. . . LeBron has admitted a mistake in the way he went about it, but it is not enough, he has been vilified, and in a year like this, that is no longer just a metaphor.
--Tiger Woods fall from grace. How many magazine covers have been spent on this story?
--The various coaching hires/fires in Colorado this year. Basically the negative atmosphere surrounding CU and the Broncos made it a necessity to fire the head coach.
--Carmelo Anthony's refusal to sign his contract and the ensuing trade rumors.
--The yearly Nebraska football hysteria that cranked up a notch this year with the changing of conferences and us having a world-class 19 year-old athlete named Taylor Martinez on the team. Apparently some folks need to remember his age.
These are some of the big "stories" that I've seen this year. . .and it's just too much. We've "fox newsed" the sports world where everything is a huge, breaking story. . . The games are secondary to the larger social reactions that the media feeds (sometimes creates) and we consume.
I'm not blaming the media for this. The media simply feeds the monster, and we are the monster. There are a few voices of reason, I remember sportswriter Rich Kaipust in the post-game chat after Nebraska/Texas pastoring some crazy depressed fans to "relax everyone, it was just a football game". That's crazy talk Rich!!!! :)
It has been a crazy year. I'm asking for everyone, (and telling myself) to settle down and go read a book, or listen to some music or something. We have death threats against professional athletes and against conference commissioners, we have 24 hour coverage of events, we have helicopters circling airports, waiting for athletes or coaches to arrive, and we have folks (me) spending untold hours on the internet going after every rumor, every tidbit of information so we know what famous athletes and coaches are thinking to themselves.
The bottom line is this: Just like everything else that isn't God, sports and athletes will disappoint you. We can't find ultimate happiness even when our teams win. It's fun. . it's not ultimate. And, your team will lose.
And the practical truth is. . . . these things don't mean as much to the athletes and coaches/administrators as they do to you and I. They are not as loyal, obsessive, and crazy about what they're doing as we are about them. This is because, for them. . this is a job.
Now, of course, they are passionate about their work as we are about ours. But, they are trying to do what's in their best interest (as we are) and so you can't hitch your wagon to an athlete/team/coach for your happiness, when they are committed to their happiness.
What we learn from Tiger, LeBron, Carmelo, etc. . is that these guys are going to work, and they are trying to make money, and make a good life FOR THEMSELVES. . .not for us.
What we learn from Nebraska, CU, Denver Broncos, etc. . is that these guys are human (and sometimes very immature and/or young) and will make a ton of mistakes. There's something sick about grown men such as myself getting really happy or angry about the decisions or performance of a 19 year old.
There's alot to like about sports. If you've ever played organized sports, it's a great kick to watch a team function together. Also, if you've ever coached it's great to strategize and see the scheme behind what is going on. I've done both, and enjoy both about watching sports.
CJ Mahaney has a great book called "Don't Waste Your Sports" which explores the spiritual and character building things we can take away from sports.
We should enjoy sports. We should partake in them. We should root for a team. We should enjoy the good things about them.
This past year became for me. . a bunch of Jerry Springer stories, trumped up by the media, consumed by obsessive team idolaters that took alot of the fun out of the sports we enjoy.
I'm exploring how to go about enjoying sports differently moving forward, so that it can be FUN. Which is. . . kind of the point.
Don't call me for the next jersey burning or airport stakeout.