Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fanaticism: An epic roller coaster

  Sports fanaticism is an epic roller coaster ride, dishing out emotional highs and lows.
  Sometimes as a sports journalist, however, you grow a little cold to it. My job is to be an objective observer, not caring who wins or loses, and it desensitizes you as a sports fan. As Joe Friday in Dragnet so eloquently put it, "Just the facts, ma'am." That's what journalists are about.
  But as I raced home Saturday night to catch my alma mater Oregon take on LSU on my DVR – carefully avoiding the score for about two-plus hours (turning off my phone, not going on the internet) – fanaticism smacked me square in the face. It was great. It was the slow climb up that steep roller coaster.

  Unfortunately, my fanaticism didn't peak where I wanted it (an Oregon win) and I quickly raced to the bottom of the ride. Watching Oregon stink it up for four quarters (thankfully fast forwarding through commercials, halftime and what I could of the Ducks' uninspiring play), I hit the bottom of the ride quick – going from, "They'll turn it around," to "Why the heck did I pay tuition to go to this school so they can torture me like this!?!" as I descended downward.
  After initial disappointment, I soon realized that's what being a fan is about. It's going through the ups and downs, dealing with the tough losses, taking those lumps and moving on to better days.
  Sometimes I forget when seeing a passionate fan in Lea County upset about a call, a coaching decision, the direction of the program or whatever that it's the fan's love for the team that drives it. It's not to be a jerk (usually). It's because they want to see success in something they invest their time and emotions into.
  Oregon's loss to LSU was a refreshing reminder of this.
  I really didn't want the reminder, but when handed lemons ... .