After weeks of ingesting countless hours of Olympic and Paralympic (yay, Danielle Hansen!) coverage, I can easily say that I am worn out. Between events on television and those streamed online, it was nonstop action. As evidenced by my last column, I’m a huge fan of the Olympics. During these weeks, I show more devotion to watching sports than Donald Trump has to his assorted wives.
But, this kind of dedication was exhausting. I became a hermit, an anti-social, a puffy-faced recluse that ate too many Cheez-Its. Frankly, it was like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un had taken up residence in my house. When I wasn’t worried about the USA team dropping the baton in a track relay or vandalizing a Rio gas station, I was watching badminton birdies fly across my television screen like hypersonic gnats. It was all too much.
This led me to a startling conclusion. Being a sport fan is not good for my health. Maybe there’s a reason I don’t care for professional sports— it’s too damn stressful and time-consuming. Honestly, I don’t know how sport fans do it week-by-week and year-after-year. And I probably shouldn’t even mention the Chicago Cubs. Those poor fans have been waiting for a World Series for so long that they probably order Xanax by the truckload.
So, given my post-Olympic fatigue, I decided to do what most people do when they are experiencing distressing symptoms or ailments. I looked them up online. I discovered that the anxiety felt by a die-hard sport fan is a real thing.
Whether a favorite sport team wins, or not, is out of our control. Yet our brains are psychologically wired to think that we can still influence and impact the things that we care about. So when we can’t, we may feel helpless, anxious, angry or upset.
Unlike most other real-life relationships and friendships, the connection that a fan has to their team is not truly reciprocal. A fan may love and idolize their team— they can purchase game tickets, t-shirts and watch them every season. But, the team itself is not really reciprocating that adoration. How can they? They don’t know you personally. Yet, a true, healthy connection can happen— when a fan spends time with other fans in a meaningful way— and that’s great, and much more fulfilling.
Learning this made me feel better. Hope it helps you, too. Just remember, you truly can’t control whether or not your team’s quarterback scores a touchdown, fumbles the ball or refuses to stand during the National Anthem. But, you can control whether or not you are bothered by it.
Sports? You can have it. I’ll just stick to Cheez-Its.