Fan Day Go…


“Me winning isn’t. You do.” Ty Webb

The Jig Is Up…

Some athletes know when the time is right to hang up their cleats. John Elway is the supreme example of this. After a storied career and 3 Super Bowl losses, Elway won 2 Super Bowls back-to-back and called it a career. We hold in high regard, the athlete who goes out on top and rides into the sunset at the pinnacle of his professional success. That metaphor endures, as we all wait for Peyton Manning to make it official sometime this spring.

Other athletes though, hang on too long. Brett Favre. Muhammad Ali. Michael Jordan. The list goes on. With many athletes, playing the game is too ingrained in their psyche. For them it’s less a matter of letting go, and more a question of who they will become when their careers are over…?

Run Ricky Run…

I was in middle school. I have a clear memory of my father leaping from his chair, landing on his feet with arms in air and fists clinched as he screamed…

“Run, Ricky, run!”

Denver Bronco, Rick Upchurch, was running a punt back for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders. My brother and I watched silently beside him.  That may be the day I became a sports fan. I wanted what my dad had – passion. Within a few years I was every bit the zealot my father was, but it didn’t end with the Broncos.

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Run, Ricky, Run!

As I grew older, and I better understood the games of football, baseball, golf, track & field, boxing, and other sports, my capacity as a sports fan grew. So too did my desire to follow these sports. Then one day I woke up and cable TV happened. Enter ESPN.

Sports Center became a requirement, 2-3 times per day. It was Cliff’s Notes for sports fans. I could enjoy several sports, and more than a few games in just 60 minutes. This did not eliminate my desire to watch complete sporting events on the weekends, it only enhanced the experience during my workweek. Crude math suggests that in my adult life I have spent some 15,000 hours watching sports news & highlights, sports analysis, and listening to sports talk radio.

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Go Big Screen Or Go Home…

In the early 2000s I was living alone in a 3-bedroom house. I had TVs in my master bedroom, my kitchen, my living room, and even one in my walk-in closet – that I not miss a moment of Sports Center as I was preparing for, or winding down from my workday.

One morning in 2005, on realizing the ridiculousness of having 4 TVs for one man living alone, I gathered them and placed them on the sidewalk in front of my house – to be taken by whoever wanted them. They were gone in an hour. Though well past my peak as a sports fan, I was done with sports and ready to retire. Time to give my attention to other interests.  Then one day I woke up and the internet happened…

fiber

We take it for granted now, but in 2005 the idea of using a computer as a TV set was somewhat fresh. Internet speeds were improving, live streaming was crude but increasingly available, and suddenly I found myself unretired, once again watching Sports, and Sports Center from my 15” window to the world — every chance I got.

This was less a matter of letting go, and more a question of who I would become when being a sports fan was over…? I didn’t know what else to do with myself.

Slowly though, I began to come to my senses and realize I was well past my peak as a fan.  This came to a head in 2011 when Tim Tebow lead the Broncos to victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game.  Earlier that week,my father – you know, the “Run, Ricky, run” guy had a mild heart attack. He lay scarcely conscious in a Las Vegas hospital as the Broncos marched off the field in victory that day. Already on hospice, my father would never watch another Bronco game. That was the 1st time I truly thought; it’s only a game.

Sports Transcends, And Body Slams…

In an era when professional athletes are seen as crybaby millionaires, and as people increasingly turn away from sports due to everything from allegations of domestic violence, performance enhancing drugs, concussion syndrome, and that the underlying current that all sports is the ejaculate of corporations stroking their wallets, I have defended professional sports for its transcendent qualities.

Sports gives us a reason to come together. Sports separate us, if only for a while, from the boss, the workplace, the responsibilities of the yard, the bills, the wars, and school shootings. Sports fulfills our need for ritual in an increasingly secular world. Sports can elevate us from an otherwise dreary life.

Sports though, can also be brutal.  It make a good day bad in an instant.  Sports can body slam us and give us an emotional beat down that even a bad boss or a cheating girlfriend couldn’t. Ask anyone who has ever watched their team lose a Super Bowl.

After The Thrill Is Gone…

It’s too late for me to hang up my fan-cleats the pinnacle of my career. That should have happened when I drove my 7-year old daughter home from the parade in downtown Denver after the Broncos won their first Super Bowl in 1997

When the Broncos won the Super Bowl for the 3rd time last week I should have been overjoyed. I should have cried, tipped over my coffee table, and run around the neighborhood screaming as my brother and I did in 1997 when they won their first. I didn’t though. I just sat in my chair and thought, that’s nice, as I continued to pet my dog and reflected Super Bowls past.

It was less a case of being grateful that Denver won, and more the comfort of knowing they didn’t lose that soothed me. I was relieved I wouldn’t have to spend the next 3 weeks in a state of pointless depression. And that was my signal to walk away once and for all. I just don’t enjoy it as much as I once did.

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The Only Big Screen I Need On A Sunday…

I live in a beautiful place. I have things to do, friends to see, a business to run, and some would-be volunteering to pursue. Like my meat-free lifestyle, I am going to give a sports-free lifestyle a legitimate chance without the expectation of perfection.  After all, I do still have meat on occasion, and the Masters is only weeks away. Maybe that will be a cheat day 4 days. I am committed. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Dharma Violets. Enjoy…

10 responses

  1. Interesting that you would write this, Roy. I’ve liked sports for quite a while, but follow them less all the time. You know originally the Internet was great because it was such a great source of information. Now it seems like too much information. Athletes have become celebrities, and most of what we learn about them is not very favorable. Then there is CTE and I am pretty sure the brain effects begin way before the player becomes retired from the NFL, like in high school. I would be fine without pro sports. Now if doctors became the new celebrity…

    • I’m actually to a point, Dr, J, (depending on whose data one chooses) in believing that it should be flag football only until 9th grade. The best data I have seen suggests that the Pop Warner football kids are even at risk. The more we know.

      Hey, at least the internet brought us Web MD…. Wink….

  2. You know I’m always in favor of anything that makes you happy. I also readily admit that two things that always seem to make me cry are 1. the birth of a baby and 2. a really great sports story…many times involving an underdog. I wish you well on your continued journey. I’ll be reading and following from afar!

    • Thanks, Heidi. I won’t deny that I have shed more tears over a good sports story than just about anything else. The human aspect of and lessons learned from sport are as valid as any religion and I will never back down from that. I will probably begin attending more youth sporting events in person, and I consider that different than watching the billion dollar spectacles of professions sports. The pros and cons…. so to say.

  3. “If you are what you do what happens when you don’t do it any more”?
    My father wants said “I don’t watch sports, I do sports” And that is how he lived his life. He played sports all his life and refused to watch other people do it. Sports is to be lived as a part of your life, not watched , but to be an active part of what you do. Enjoy it at what ever level.

    • Thanks, Bill. I know you watch USC and a few NFL teams. I also know that many Saturdays and Sundays you choose not to so that you can ride, hike, backpack, and tend your property in Big Bear.. As you have taught me, we can being human beings or human doings…

  4. Nicely done my brother,well written,and words which sink in. I too being a former player and FANATIC of the GAME of Football,along with other sports. Watching sports for me be it a local Pop Warner Football game, or having gone with my son to see the Lakers play at Staples. It’s just Entertainment for my mind. To allow me a break from the hustle and bustle.Since I became a husband and father I have not sat and watched any game on Television form start to finish. Even this 5oth Super Bowl I spent time in the backyard talking with our neighbor. Oh My Lordy look at what we have around us. The Beautiful Out Doors here in So Cal. I’m with Dr.J on the CTE issue. It literally hit home with me.as I manage dealing with my own issues resulting from the concussions. Way back in the day. When I played helmets and equipment was far less superior compared to today’s standards. My bell was rung way too many times. I feel you on walking away and taking a break. Like many things in life, enjoy with moderation.

    • Thanks, Brother. This is a conversation that I’m sure will come up between you, Corey, and I. I am increasingly convinced that children under the age of middle school should not play tackle football, but flag football. That will make many men cringe, but there is increasing evidence that CTE can begin that early, and while brains are still forming. If I had a son today, there is a very good chance I would not let him play football. That’s very hard to admit after all it has meant to me through the years. We evolve….

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