Do we care too much about our favorite teams?by J.W. Miller on 12/23/19
It’s the Christmas season when all around us is happy and bright. So why am I in a dither, when every game I watch is like a lump of coal in my throat? I can partly blame the Saints who are in a race for home field throughout the playoffs, and we all know the importance of that. Even so, we care about our favorite teams too much sometimes, and it creates behavior that we aren’t always proud of. No, I’ve never thrown my TV off a third-floor balcony, probably owing more to the fact that I’ve never lived in a house with a third-floor balcony than the emotional roller-coaster I ride during a game.
There, I admit it! Your normally mild-mannered correspondent can act like a horse’s patoot when I am watching one of my favorite teams play poorly or, horrors! even lose a game. Caring about how you conduct yourself during the week is much easier than caring about how you conduct yourself in the two or three hours while your favorite team is tugging at your emotions. I don’t act ugly in public, with the exception of the occasional wayward 3-foot putt. That is because the former is governed by logic and the latter is often governed by emotion. But golf isn’t logical so that doesn’t count.
I have always been emotional about Kentucky basketball and football to the point where I talk constantly during a tight game, occasionally shouting at the television or fist-pumping a good play. That’s not unnatural for an avid fan of any team. Then there was the time when undefeated Kentucky lost in the Final Four and I stormed out of the house and roamed the neighborhood streets for an hour. But that was only once. You would think that even as sports fans we would evolve and mature, but as I get older, I find that my mood swings during games have become worse.
Take the Saints’ 38-28 win over Tennessee on Sunday. Or, better yet, sit with me while I watch the game. They get behind 14-0, and I can’t believe I am watching the same team that dismantled the Colts on Monday Night Television (when nary an evil word passed my lips). The offense looked sluggish, and it seemed that every time the Saints would make a nice gain, it would be canceled by a penalty. Eight penalties in the first half is enough to squeeze the ulcers! Even at 14-0, I was trying to be philosophical, that there’s a long way to go and the Saints have overcome adversity before, and that seemed to work like a tumbler of Sal Hepatica.
When the Saints fought back and took the lead, Good Jimmy’s mood was floating on angels’ wings. I was even trying to crack jokes with The Lovely Miss Jean, who is the best person in the world for me to watch a game with because she ignores most of my antics. She also knows not to invite anyone to watch a big game at our house.
A good example of why came in the fourth quarter, when the Titans closed the 10-point deficit. The Saints are up 31-21 with 11:43 remaining and on their own 9-yard line, and I’m imploring Drew Brees to start killing some clock. Instead, he throws two incomplete passes and then appears to be sacked for a safety. Jean flags me for my first F-bomb of the day, although Brees was ruled down at the one-yard line. I’m looking for the dog to kick before I remembered he died. Of natural causes, I should add.
The Titans take a short punt and march down the field and score, making it 31-28 with 7:27 to go. Bad Jimmy returns and spiders began crawling up my legs. I feel a knot in my stomach that feels like a watermelon, when the Saints can’t make a first down and go to punt formation at midfield. Every Who Dat in the house knows Taysom Hill is going to take the snap and make something happen. But his perfect pass hits Justin Hardee’s hands and bounces away. ARRRGGGHHH! I thought they had cut him! The Titans have the ball with four minutes to go, and I can envision another touchdown over Janoris Jenkins, our latest swinging door. I’m trying to chew my nails, but I’d already done that and am down to the bloody knuckles.
Then Ryan Tannehill’s deep pass completion is fumbled, Saints recover and the sun comes out and the birds begin to sing and all is right with the world. But not for long. I’m praying for a touchdown and not a field goal that would give the Titans another chance when Brees and the wonderful Mike Thomas put me out of my misery. Final score 38-28, and Good Jimmy happily joins The Lovely Miss Jean in wrapping Christmas presents while watching the Cowboys and Eagles. It's fun to watch a game that doesn’t even blip on my emotional Richter scale.