Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Miserable? No way

    My wife says I'm miserable when my team loses, and miserable when my team wins.
    Which makes me ... pretty happy. Which makes me a fan.
     After further review, I will say that I would rather be a helluva lot more miserable winning than losing. Give me another World Series title for the Yankees or a national football championship for LSU, and I will be perfectly content ... for a few months anyway.
     But I admit that I'm not much fun to be around when games are on and I'm absorbed in them. My family knows this, many of my friends do, and I know my co-workers do.
     Watching LSU football this fall with one of my son Jason's friends for the first time, he told Jay afterward that I was the "worst" fan he'd ever seen, or words to that effect.
      I respectfully disagree. Aw, heck, I don't do it respectfully. That's just wrong.
      Substitute "intense" for "worst." Or "most caring." Or "critical."
      I'm demanding of my team's players, and of my team's performance. I expect perfection (and somehow it rarely happens). I'm grateful when my team wins, but not satisfied with a subpar showing.
     I'm a nervous fan, and I can be terribly emotional. Furniture, garbage cans, objects on a desk are not safe in my presence. I'll scream. Language is often out of bounds.
     I'm quick to pick up on things happening on and off the field, love trying to guess what coaches and managers are thinking, and trying to anticipate what strategy comes next. What comes with that is a running conversation, mostly with myself. I don't really need the TV announcers (and there are not that many I like anyway).
      But the running conversation does irritate people watching with me.
      So if I'm watching, say, a Dallas Mavericks' game with my wife -- who is a huge Mavs' fan (and I am not particularly an NBA fan) -- she will just tell me to "shut up" or "go somewhere else." And Jason, during LSU games, will say, "Dad, don't start with that negativity."
      I don't see it as "negative," but ...
     OK, I apologize to those who have been through the experience. A one-time apology, that's it.
      Bottom line: If it's a team I really care about -- the Yankees, LSU football, the Dutch soccer team -- I'd rather watch by myself. (The Dallas Cowboys used to be in that category, but Tom Landry doesn't coach them anymore.)
      I am, however, a much more subdued fan if I'm watching a game in person. And there have been times in the past decade when I've had 93,000 or so people in the stands with me. There's nothing quite like LSU football.
I can watch games in this place with 93,000 of my best friends.

   Sometimes in the heat of a great game, I can be totally absorbed. Such was the case in the greatest college football game I've witnessed -- No. 1 undefeated LSU 28, No. 9 defending national champion Florida 24, at Tiger Stadium in 2007.
       That was the night LSU three times was behind by 10 points (10-0, 17-7, 24-14), when Tim Tebow ran off to the dressing room at halftime doing the Gator chop, when Les Miles went 5-for-5 on fourth-down gambles -- a couple on LSU's game-winning, 60-yard drive to Jacob Hester's dive into the end zone (on the end where we were sitting) with 1:09 remaining.
      Through that whole final drive, the crowd was in an uproar, as it was when Florida's last-second pass to the end zone fell incomplete.
     When it was over, Jay turned to me and said, "Dad, you didn't say a word the whole time."
      "I couldn't talk," I answered, "because I wasn't breathing."
      That night I was a miserably happy fan.    

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