Monday, September 8, 2008

The Empty Ache of a Football Fan

Over this past weekend I overdosed on football. A fact about me is that I absolutely love the game of football, and our family bleeds scarlet and grey. We love the pageantry and sing the fight songs on Saturday mornings. We faithfully find a place to watch the game if humanly possible--sometimes that's at home and other times it's at the Anderson Bar and Grill. This Saturday we watched our Buckeyes underwhelm the Ohio University Bobcats. This was supposed to be a glorified scrimmage, but turned out to be anything but. The Bobcats showed up to play, and the Bucks painfully did not. Even with all that, the Buckeyes were able to somehow pull it out with some dramatic special teams play. Next week we play the USC Trojans on their field. Hopefully the Buckeyes will not disappoint, and they'll play at the level of their opponent like they always do.

Then on Sunday, we watched the Browns get drubbed by the Cowboys. The Browns actually showed some life in that game, not like the Bengals who got manhandled by the Baltimore Ravens. As we watched all of our teams play terribly I kept thinking of something Jesus said to His followers in John 6: "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."

I confess that at times I've obsessed about the Buckeyes and occasionally about the Browns, and definitely about the Indians. In 1997 I almost flunked the fall quarter of Seminary because the Tribe was in the World Series. Sad.

With the way college football is set up, you have to be perfect (or near) to win the big prize. The last two seasons, the Bucks have been in the big game and choked it away. Then we have to endure months of disparaging treatment of our guys until it's time to start over again in the fall. I've gotten to the place where I'm asking myself more and more frequently, "Is this all worth it?" When so much can disappear when your star tailback injures his leg, or when Tom Brady blows out his knee, is it worth so much investment of time and emotion?

As a lifelong Browns, Indians and Buckeyes fan we've had a ceaseless stream of unrealized championships, goal line fumbles, dropped touchdown passes, hall of fame moments from our opponents, Games 7 catastrophes, and on and on and on. The only break in that cycle was the 2002 Buckeyes, and we've had to suck the life out of that one since.

So my question remains: "Can I be a devoted fan and still be able to resist investing so much of myself that I lose perspective about what's important." The last two years the Buckeyes have lost miserably in the national championship game and afterwards I've been pretty upset. My wife reminded me, "Did you forget the great season they had? All those victories? How well they played all season? How much fun we had watching them? One loss can't erase all that can it?" Can it? I didn't want to hear it, but she is right. In the end, it's only a game and it's supposed to be fun. It's not supposed to be something that causes depression and anxiety.

So I've started praying that God would help me to not obsess about any of the games. I'm going to wear my jersey and be excited, but I'm going to try and turn a corner and not let it get to me. I'll let you know how it goes.

More later . . . 

1 comment:

Alice said...

Thanks Chuck for the post. You've only reminded me how very thankful I am that I married someone who is not a sports fan junkie who has the struggles you face. I pray for your strength ... :)