Words From the Wise: Is my team bigger than my life?

Why do we allow ourselves to get so emotionally attached to our teams?

tottenham logo 88 (photo credit: )
tottenham logo 88
(photo credit: )
When I watch sports, I associate the teams playing via friends or people I know who support those teams. So anything Minnesota is my brother-in-law Jonathan, Juventus is my colleague Moshe, Liverpool is Gilly, anything Boston is the Sports Guy - you get the general drift. Regardless of the result, all I can think of is how that person must be feeling. Ben is my Tottenham guy. He is a great bloke, is well read and knows what he is talking about. I respect his opinions a great deal and even more so after we had a NIS 500 wager on the Ashes with him backing England. On Sunday afternoon I saw that West Ham drew with Tottenham after equalizing in the 90th minute and sent him a text message asking him how he felt. Although it was the furthest thing from my mind, on contemplation I sensed the message could have come across as a bit glib if not condescending. To drop two points with literally the last kick of the game to your cross-town rival is a kick in the gut and the last thing you need is text messages from people asking you how you feel. I called Ben up to apologize and we sorted it out but the episode got me thinking. Why do we allow ourselves to get so emotionally attached to our teams? Why should it affect us if the team we follow wins or loses? Do we stand to gain anything either way? There were studies conducted a while ago that revealed productivity among the Pittsburgh steelworkers was always greater on the Monday following a Steelers win. Those sentiments are most likely echoed all over the world, be it Manchester, Milan, Montreal, Miami, Montevideo, Melbourne or Mumbai. I can't tell you why but if one of my teams loses I can be in a bit of a sour mood for a while. In the event of one of them winning, there is a spring in my step. Believe it or not there are actually some people out there who care more about the health of one of the injured players on their team than that of family members? Do people have a problem and need therapy if they are unable to feel or express any type of emotion unless it has something to do with sport? There is definitely something meritorious in what sport can do. Not many other things could have generated the feelings of goodwill and unity that arose when Gal Fridman won Israel's first Olympic gold medal in Athens last year. Nothing can bring people together as much as sport can but then again nothing can divide like sport does. Fans who love to taunt and provoke each other live a high-risk existence and they will eventually realize that being on the receiving end of barbs and insults when losing is not commensurate to the pleasure gained from gloating and crowing when winning. In any event, most of those who are skilled and highly proficient at dishing it out seem inadequate and incapable of taking it. Betar Jerusalem fans take note. Part of the problem in this day and age with fans being such poor sports is the way the media promotes and hypes winning. On this exact point, Nike copped a lot of flack during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics for their slogan "You don't win silver, you lose gold." All too often the runners-up of the FA Cup final, the Super Bowl, golf playoffs, tennis finals and the like are portrayed as losers when in reality they did better than al but one of the other competitors. Greg Norman, who has just been voted Australia's golfer of the century, is typecast as the ultimate choker but isn't it better to be second in 10 tournaments than to win one and come nowhere close ot the top in the rest? Supporters need to understand that there can only be one winner and without a loser there can be no winner. That is unless it is a draw. But sometimes a draw feels like a loss. Just ask Ben.