Friday, December 31, 2010

Giving It Away

There's a week left in the NFL season, and in all likelihood, two games in the Eagles' season, and as I stare down the barrel of a cold winter and all that implies -- shoveling, shivering, and over-preparing for a baseball draft that's three months away -- well, it's time to remember why we watch sports.

We watch to lose.

We lose time, and money, and patience and blood pressure points and dignity. We suffer untold indignities and the jealousy of people we disdain, for the occasional payoff that's more relief from misery, rather than pure joy. And the joy is taken quickly, since there is always another game, and rare definitive moments where you end things plainly and irrevocably well.

By the way, the same thing goes for playing poker.

But here's the thing that I got from shivering at the Linc on Tuesday night, knowing that everyone in my sphere of influence and friendship were going to razz me for causing the loss... I didn't have a bad time. I was out, at a game, with a really good friend. I got to spend four hours thinking really hard about something that doesn't really matter, with complete and total distraction form work and money worries. I couldn't clean anything, write anything, work on any household project or wish I was anywhere else. And honestly, how often is that set of conditions true for you, and shouldn't you always be happy when they do?

Before my kids were born, when I had time and the illusion of disposable income, I played golf. It never quite got to the level of obsession, but I probably played 50 rounds over a couple of years, and on the right (i.e, short) course with a hot putter, I could break 90. More often, I was in the 100-110 range, and something worse than that, because there was never a round where every club in the bag was working. But there was also never a round where I really regretted going, even when the greens fees cost too much, or the round took forever due to crowded conditions, or I just stunk it up and lost a dozen balls. Because even when things starting going badly, I'd remind myself that I was playing golf. And that's supposed to be fun.

Like going to games, or watching them, or writing about sports.

Win or lose. Or, much more likely, lose. And if you can't take that, or want to pretend that it's not going to happen to you... find something else to watch.

As for me... well, my football laundry is doomed. My fantasy team is going to bubble. My baseball team is a fraud, and my basketball team is, at best, on an entertaining treadmill. And no one is pointing a gun to my head and making me care. So let's play.

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