It's 888 Miles to Chicago...
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Sports are an escape, but sometimes real life gets in the way of the escape.  For the hardcore fans out there, you know what this means, missing out on crucial sports news and discussion.  It’s enough to make a fans head spin.

Waiting for a meeting to begin is always a strange time.  Some rooms sit in silence, worried about the boss entering.  Others make inane chatter about things like “Ooh Donuts!” or “Is everyone here?”  Still others start into the meeting before the meeting even begins, not wanting to lose precious time to hear themselves sound important.  But this particular meeting, well, this particular meeting talked about football.

The weekend held promise of the Seahawks travelling to Chicago to take on the 13-3 Bears.  Everyone in the room was convinced that the Hawks would beat the Bears, that they were weak, and that despite the Hawks struggles that season, it was a year removed from the Super Bowl.  Some how, some way, my voice did not join in the football chorus, that is until a head turned towards me…

“Wait, Josh, you’re a Bears fan aren’t you?”

The room went quiet, and all eyes turned toward me.  A simple yes would of brought several ragging remarks from the group.  A quick “Hell yeah, and we’re going to kick your ass” would of brought jeering, and if the Bears should happen to lose, well…a fan’s worst nightmare.  An answer of “No” or “sort of” is out of the question for any fan, you never forsake your team.  After running through my options, my lips curled into a smile, and…

What came out of my mouth was not just a simple “Yes”, or a boasting cry, it was a detailed explanation of why the Bears would win, and an explanation of how the Hawks COULD win.  Seeing how the expert analysis before that had been of the “Alexander is just so good”, the conclusion of my rant was met with shocked silence.  And then another head turned towards me…

“Well, I guess you’ll be happy no matter who wins.”

At the moment, there was no other response except “No, I’m a Bears fan.”

It wasn’t until recently that the logic used even started to register.  A casual sports fan can just enjoy the game for what it is, an entertaining contest between two professional teams.  They see no problem with changing their allegiance with each move.  If they reside in Chicago, they’re a Bears fan.  When they move to Denver, it’s “Go Broncos!”  When they get transferred to Dallas, they cheer on the Cowboys.

The life of the casual fan is an easy, care-free world.   Sports aren’t a matter of us vs. them, it’s a thrilling TV program, or a reason to sit in the stands and have a beer.  No matter who wins, or loses, the game can be fun.  And no reason to stay till the end, there is traffic to beat, and a bed to get to.

For us hardcore, lifelong, obsessed fans, sports is not something to pass the time, it’s a full time job.  With every loss, our ego takes another blow.  Every spare moment of the day is spent searching for more information about the team.  The players, coaches, front office and training staff are all referred to on a first name basis.  And hearing another fan bad mouth your team sends you into a frenzy.  Your life is sports.

Many a non-fan has been heard to say “Why does it matter if that guy catches the ball?”

Why does it matter?  Because I’ve devoted a large portion of my time to reading every single piece of text written about that player.  I’ve listened to every word uttered about him on the radio, tv or around the water cooler.  I’ve watched hundreds of hours of highlights, game footage, and live games to know everything I can about that player.  So when he catches that ball, a part of me is out there catching it as well.

That same non-fan would say “So you do all that just so you can cheer?”

Hardcore fans don’t cheer, we root.  Cheering is something you do at a little league game.  When you invest the time an effort into a team, it’s not cheering, it’s rooting.  The pay off for you isn’t that you get to clap after a catch…it’s that scream of pure joy…that jump out of your seat enthusiasm…that rush of adrenaline…and that feeling of accomplishment for doing nothing more than seeing your team make the catch.

That is the life of a hardcore fan.  We live every moment waiting, hoping, reading, talking, researching, praying, so that when that big moment comes, it’s not just some guy out there catching a ball…we’re out there catching the ball, and feeling the joy of victory.

Being a hardcore fan is not a hobby, or an extracurricular activity.  It’s a job.  It’s your life.  But the problem with life is, “real” life always gets in the way.

How is one to focus on the important things like “Who are the Dolphins going to pick?” When you have to worry which school Henry is going to goto next year?  Why is it that you can’t concentrate on whether the Cardinals or the Tigers are the bigger surprise, when your wife has just announced a surprise of her own?  Where can you turn when you’re trying to debate who has the nicest home park, and there is the question of where you’re going to live in a couple month rattling around in your head?

And that’s the curse…when you devote so much of your time and energy to sports, and then real life gets in the way it’s one of the most disorienting feelings.  Kicking back, and reading the NFL draft preview doesn’t have the same effect…and you see no reason to spend every hour staring at internet trying to glean every morsel of information…because you know it won’t do you any good right now….your mind is elsewhere.

That’s where my mind has been the last couple weeks.  The NFL draft is a forgotten event right now, and baseball season is a faint noise in the background.  Real life is the sport of choice for me right now…

I hope this game finishes up soon, so I can get back to the stuff that matters…

****

Starting next week, I’m hoping to start a new format for my blogs.  That is if real life cooperates.  My goal is to write a daily blog, shorter than my Thursday blogs…I’m going to be playing around with the exact format of these blogs…so any feedback would be great.  The goal is to do a longer Thursday post still…but not sure if I’ll be able to pull that off next week or not….frickin’ real life.

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