The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

“We are inclined that if we watch a football game or baseball game, we have taken part in it.”  ~John F. Kennedy

“Root, root, root for the home team.  If they don’t win it’s a shame.” – “Take me Out to the Ballgame

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As an avid sports fan, I attend as many sporting events as time and my wallet will permit.  I do not discriminate between basketball, football, baseball, hockey, college, professional, high school, little league, etc.  Rooting for the home team brings some of the sweetest joys and the bitterest sorrows.  When it comes to the local sports team, a win or loss represents more than just the team’s performance; it is a reflection of the home city, its fans, and way of life. Until of course, a couple hours after the game, the weight of the outcome settles in, and people move on to the next task.

Here’s a look at some of the highs and lows of being an avid sports spectator.

The Best of Times…

“When you win, everybody shines, everybody wins.” -Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics

Throughout the course of a game, especially at the end of the season, it is not uncommon for a spectator to experience a complete range of emotions.   There is nothing quite like the high that comes from watching your team win, especially when it is a come-from-behind win, an unexpected win, a win against a famous rival, a high-stakes win such as the Super Bowl, or your team is just that good.

When the home team wins big, fans instantly feel incredibly good about themselves, their team, their lives, their city, the planet!  People who were once strangers become united by the sweet victory of their local sports team. If your local sports team is lucky enough to win the big game, it becomes more than just a win; it becomes good triumphing over evil.

The clip below exemplifies the idea of how when the local sports team wins, it is not just a reflection of strong athleticism, but also a reflection of the superior cultural mores of that particular city.  Boston Celtics player Kevin Garnett meets with local teens, takes them into the city and declares that “this isn’t about basketball; it’s about your way of life and how you live.”  Basketball is beyond a game.  It is a brotherhood, a way of life.

The Worst of Times…

“No one knows what to say in the loser’s locker room.” – Muhammad Ali

Nothing feels worse than witnessing your team take a beating by the opposing team. Especially at the home court or field.  The only thing worse than watching your team get destroyed is watching it happen repeatedly. Unfortunately, that is currently the case with my Milwaukee Brewers.  The Brewers have the worst home record in the league, only winning four of their home games (I attended two of them).  The other day, after exiting my sixth home Brewers game of the season, I asked myself, “Why are you paying to experience emotional pain?!”  What’s that saying about how you can tell the most about a person by how he or she handles adversity?  The same goes for sports fans after their home team loses.  Most sports fans don’t handle a loss very well; cursing, crying, excessive drinking, boxing matches are several ways fans deal with the bitter taste of defeat.

The Bottom Line…

“If you make every game a life-and-death thing, you’re going to have problems.  You’ll be dead a lot.”  ~Dean Smith

Relish in your favorite team’s victories. Buy your friends a celebratory round of drinks. Don a pair of goggles and sprinkle yourself with the finest champagne, but don’t get too comfortable.  Every team can’t win every game, every year and some years just are not going to be the time for your favorite teams to win.  Accept defeat gracefully and don’t let it stop you from attending games! Teams need the support of their fans the most during tough times to boost their morale.  You wouldn’t leave your lover just because he or she was going through a rough time; the same goes for your local sports team.  You don’t want to be a fair-weathered fan! Don’t let your team’s losing record steer you away from attending home games.  You can still enjoy the atmosphere, the stadium beers, and the company you keep.  Just be realistic about the fact that your team probably won’t win! And if they do, well, what a nice surprise!

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

We all know that baseball is America’s pastime and I feel very fortunate to live only 15 minutes away from my local ballpark. Popping over to Miller Park to catch the Milwaukee Brewers in action requires little effort and there’s always someone who is willing to go at a moment’s notice. There’s always a way to find tickets even if that means sitting where you can touch the retractable roof.  One of the best parts about Miller Park, besides the brats, the beer, the sausage races, Bernie’s Dugout, the retractable roof, singing “Roll Out the Barrel” during the 7th inning stretch,  is tailgating. Unlike Fenway Park, still one of my favorite places of all time, you can tailgate at Miller Park before, during, and after the game.  Nothing like enjoying pre-game bratwursts, pasta salad, and beers in the parking lot of the ballpark.

Even if you’re not a Milwaukee Brewers fan, or even a huge baseball fan, you should still find some team or some thing to root for.  There is no better way to build camaraderie amongst a group of strangers than through cheering on a common outcome.  Sporting team colors or your favorite team’s logo, for instance, helps identify common allies in a crowd full of strangers, building an instant rapport.

 To celebrate my first summer back in Milwaukee in four years, I’ve decided to take full advantage of my proximity to Miller Park by attending twenty Milwaukee Brewers games this season.  There’s nothing more Milwaukee than going to a Milwaukee Brewers game and with the high number of home games this season it shouldn’t be too difficult to make this goal into a reality. Time to show some serious Milwaukee pride and root, root, root for the home team (if they don’t win it’s a shame)! You’ll be able to spot me as I will be tailgating in the parking lot, dressed head to toe in team colors.  I might even save you a bratwurst.