Staying a fan from afar

When I moved to Israel just over a year ago, I feared my days of hard-core sports fanaticism were coming to an anti-climactic end. Boy, was I ever wrong.

superbowl 88 (photo credit: )
superbowl 88
(photo credit: )
When I moved to Israel just over a year ago, one of my primary concerns was how I would feed my insatiable sporting appetite. I knew I'd be able to follow my favorite teams from a distance thanks to the internet, but I feared my days of hard-core sports fanaticism, with all the wonderful craziness it entails, were coming to an anti-climactic end. Boy, was I ever wrong, thank God! Armed with a trusty old laptop and the benefit of bachelorhood, I have spent countless sleepless nights over the course of the past year catching streaming feeds of live events online - from MLB spring training games, to March Madness, to the NBA playoffs, even an old favorite, the Scripps national spelling bee. The weekly Sunday night triple-header NFL-marathons until six in the morning from my bed in Jerusalem almost beat the similar afternoon-evening couch-fests that typify fall and winter weekends back in the old country. To my delight, being thousands of miles away has not at all curbed my enthusiasm for sport, but rather has afforded me the opportunity to truly realize and reaffirm how much I enjoy every second of it. I feel like I have fallen in love all over again. The 2008 sporting landscape has provided so many personal 'heaven on earth' moments that, looking back, it has undoubtedly topped 1993 (when my Toronto Blue Jays won their second of back-to-back World Series and my Maple Leafs went on a deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs) as the best sports year of my life. Even now, with the year winding down, I have a hard time replaying some of the incredible moments over in my mind without getting heart palpitations of excitement. It's always tempting to overstate the immediate and lose perspective of history when you're still keyed up from something so remarkable and present. Still, this was an impossibly great year, eh? Where to even begin? The last 12 months have treated us all to the greatest Super Bowl ever (sorry, Pats fans!), the greatest tennis match of all-time in an ultra-epic Wimbeldon final, the greatest golf tournament ever played in a surreal US Open victory by hobbled demi-god Tiger Woods, the greatest Olympian ever putting on a 'Phelpsian' display of domination; and the list goes on and on. It truly is an exercise in futility to try to pick one from the rest as being the most memorable. As any sports aficionado can attest to, there is a "where was I when…" aspect to being a fan that can make a single moment last a lifetime. Looking back and recounting a particular memory - whether a game, a play, or even a feeling evoked - can, interestingly enough, be almost as satisfying and vivid as the actual event itself. Naturally, as time passes, the details of the individual feats and accomplishments from the past year will blur in my mind and mesh with the millions of other unbelievable moments that I have witnessed throughout my glorious, and still-peaking, career as a sports fanatic. What will always remain clear-as-day with me from 2008, however, is the fact that sports have this unfathomable power to transcend time and especially place and, time and again, touch something deep in the hearts and souls of those of us who are truly devoted. I can't wait to see what 2009 holds in store. The writer is a sports desk editor at The Jerusalem Post.