Everyone has a Thing

When I was growing up, I never understood how people could like football so much (for my American readers, I am referring to ‘soccer’ here). I grew up in northern England where football is basically a religion. The stadium is at the center of the city. Every other weekend the locals come out in their masses and eagerly walk the streets to watch the game. The outcome of the games genuinely affects the moral of the people. If the team wins, everyone is in a good mood for the week. If they lose, everyone mopes around analysing how this was possible. Either way, conversations are normally dominated by the previous or forthcoming football game.

I have friends that know literally everything about football. They spend their weekends watching multiple games a day. They invest a great deal of time to finding out the most esoteric facts and figures. Their forté is pub trivia nights when they suddenly become a walking encyclopaedia of sports knowledge. They know things like who scored England’s goal in the loss to Argentina in the World Cup in 1986 or which Sheffield Utd player received a red card before touching the ball in January 2007 (I googled them questions by the way).

I never understood this mentality as a kid. Why do people need to know all of this pointless information that serves no purpose? How can masses of people cheer and shout at their screens over a game they have no control over? Why is their mood controlled by an outcome of a game when they aren’t the ones kicking the ball?

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As you may have guessed, I was more of a bookish kid. I found the people who intently followed sports foolish and I would deliberately eschew from cheering for sports teams. If I was good friends with Freud and we were having afternoon tea, I image he would deduce that I held these negative feelings because of a detachment and rejection I felt from my family and friends growing up. Or lets face it, he’d also probably say that I secretly wanted to kill my father and sleep with my mother.

As I grew older these opinions slowly dissipated. Nowadays I have gotten over my complex of shunning sports and can enjoy watching the odd game. Although I am still indifferent to results and still feel like an outsider at times.

I realised I was/am no different to sports fans. When I was in my teens I spent years of my life finding out every piece of information and trivia about my favourite movies. I spent ludicrous amounts of money going to concerts. Lately I am constantly going crazy and screaming at the TV when a fictional character I like on The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones dies. Why is this any different to going crazy over sports?

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My emotions are being controlled over fictional characters on a screen. I have no control over the outcome of movies and books yet I still invest my energy and time into them. I realised I shouldn’t be judging other people for liking things I didn’t understand (wow, what an epiphany! I realised something that I should have known in the first place. Someone give me a pat on the back or round of applause?)

There is no difference between knowing who scored the winning goal in the 1978 world cup final to knowing what happened in Spiderman comic No.19, or how fast the Starship Enterprise goes. One is no ‘geekier’ than the other. However, I grew up in a place where the latter was considered a more geeky thing to know and often felt ostracised for being different. But why? You’re using the same part of your brain. Fulfilling the same need. You are just directing the same amount of enthusiasm towards a different thing.

I remember watching the England vs Italy game in the World Cup this year at a pub in my hometown. The pub was packed full of die hard England fans. Inspite of my apathy to the game, it was a very fulfilling experience being a part of a community of people who felt happy and sad (and lets face it, mainly angry when watching England play) together as one unit.

I remember when England scored their first goal to draw 1- 1 (they would eventually lose but no one in the pub knew that at this point) and the whole place erupted in elated noise. Everyone, myself included, started jumping and hugging each other. There was a synchronicity in our actions and thoughts that removed me from myself.

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At this moment I realised the importance of sport in peoples lives. People want to feel a connection to something bigger than themselves. These social codes and rituals can be used to create an identity that transcends the individual. For everyone in that bar, those brief moments of watching mega rich people kicking a small ball around on some grass connected us. We weren’t alone. At that moment in time it didn’t matter who I was. It didn’t matter what my name was, where I was from, or what my job was. In that moment my thoughts became secondary.

Everyone has a thing that offers them a similar feeling of transcendence. Whether it is through sports, movies, religion, or stamp collecting. Nobodies thing is more or less valid than anybody else’s thing.

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36 thoughts on “Everyone has a Thing

  1. Reblogged this on zodiacimmortal and commented:
    OMG This sounds like me before I went to my first Hockey game, and with the amount I spent on cards, going to games (or even the ones someone invited me to) etc I’d estimate around a million dollars (or maybe half a million the least!) spent!
    In ever understood sports, never liked them & never liked gym (PE) class. My friend invited me to a hockey game then my hatred of sports flew out the window, I read all I could on the rules of hockey trivia books and more! I even tried to teach myself Czech as most of my favorite players were from Czech Republic & Slovakia!

    as for the part about yelling at the tv well I always knew how to do that as my dad & I would watch wrestling when I was a kid and he always would yell at the tv. (Never understood why he would yell and again then I got into hockey! oddly enough I’m witchy. When I bitch it works and thngs happen, so maybe that’s the reason we yell at the tv or in the arena unfortunately this doesn’t really work with Nascar racing! Although Thank goodness Gordon, The Busch brothers Nor jimie Johnson were the champ this year & thanks to the inaugural use of the Chase Grid, My Driver Kevin Harvick is the Champion!! I guess my yelling and screaming that the slim pedal was the gas & to ‘hulk smash’ it through the metal worked!

    Lately with certain tv shows, the talking to the tv hasn’t stopped. Deaths of Favorite characters on Walking Dead, American Horror story & (for me) Psychotic Cliff hangers like that of the Arrow mid-season finale. I know he’s not dead, the show is too good but still you have to tourcher me me not having my shows to watch (some of them until March!!! Others thank goodness only til January but still that’s too long even if you have mini series on during the hiatus. Pixelated lifestyle asks how it’s any different from sports.. nbo idea but if you think about it… Walking Dead is a game you have to kill zombies, gather supplies to survive etc. Game of thrones, well that is just the board game Risk (just watch the intro credits) as a tv show that feels like a weekly movie. (I jsut wish for some jousting.. LOVED that in The Tudors!)

    As to the sports, I think it’s the energy of the enviornment you feel, and sometimes you don’t even have to be at the arena to feel it. I was watching a game years ago on Center Ice of the Edmonton Oilers (I forget who they were playing) I think it was someone’s Jersey Retirement night and I was jsut hyper all night and though I wasn’t there I felt a certain energy, something special would happen no idea what. Well My favorite player Ethan Moreau got a a goal, then another & I don’t know if he ever did before but I got to see one of my Favorite ’94 draft picks get a Hat Trick! So I guess you can say the elation of when your team wins or your player scores (or yourself getting on the jumbotron when your favorite player scores) I an understand may be the reason for sports. (even a concert! I’ve been to 6-10 Godsmack Concerts with few others thrown in and its so much better to be there than to watch a (free) steaming of it. (I did thank The band & the singers sister as well to pass that on to anyone else who had anything to do with making it a freebie!)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I still however refuse to root for NY teams though. only few times I have (like when Wayne Chrebet was on the Jets if he didn’t play I didn’t watch. I was VERY confused when my Favorite player (& former NJ Devil) Petr Sykora became a NY Ranger (I was calling myself the ‘ay’ hockey fan as I was so confused I didn’t know which to root for or just root for my devils & hope my player scored but at the same time that was rooting for the NY team ::puke:: so like I said very confusing.

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  2. Great post! I admire your even mindedness towards sports fanatics. I am older and more cantankerous and do not get sports obsession at all. Thanks for making me think. Thanks for following my blog too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Author P.S. Bartlett and commented:
    “Everyone has a thing that offers them a similar feeling of transcendence. Whether it is through sports, movies, religion, or stamp collecting. Nobodies thing is more or less valid than anybody else’s thing.”

    Isn’t that the truth. 🙂

    Like

  4. I am a book, movie and theater geek as well and don’t get much (anything) from sports, but I do enjoy it when I’m spending time with family/friends watching a game. You are right, it is about being together and connected. Thanks for following my blog. I look forward to reading more of your very insightful posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always felt I was missing out on the natural camaraderie that comes with being a sports fan. It took a lot of time to realise it wasn’t unique and I could find it in other outlets. Thank you for reading. Take care, Kristian.

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  5. Enjoyable and well-written post! 🙂

    I guess I feel the same about favourite books. It sure can be difficult getting others to understand why the death (or disappearance) of fave characters jars one’s world so for a number of days before one wills oneself to move on in the narrative, heheh.

    Thank you for dropping by my site with your warmth and do take care, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pixel,
    Yeah, this post asks questions I’ve asked over a lot of years. I, too, am a fan of teams still, but have noticed a drop-off in caring as I get older. I think the attraction in watching athletics is 3-fold: it’s an “outlet;” it’s often a social event when shared with others; and I believe it’s bred into man. What’s the difference between people going to watch football (NFL, college) today and people going to see gladiators clash in a coliseum centuries ago? (the theme/question for my Feb 1 website post about the Super Bowl played on that day this year). Check it out. I’d love to see what you think. I’m Following your blog now! so my post will be sent to you. … Glad you liked my recent posts and became a Follower of my blog. I look forward to reading more of yours soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Taking your point one step further, there is nothing more ridiculous than cheering for a logo which is basically what pro sports fans are doing. Teams change players all the time and the results if every Super Bowl or World Cup haw absolutely zero net effect on anyone’s life (sans perhaps the bookies). But we all cheer anyway. Before I met Diane te NY Rangers first Stanley cup Chanpionship in 54 years was literally the best day of my life. Which made no sense whatsoever and shows how young people especially gravitate to useless shit like sports to feel useful and bond with each other.

    While you were obviously not a jock it’s no different than Sheldon and his buddies on Big Bang theory all collecting comics or attending geek conventions. But when you’re not a sports fan it’s common to be ostracized.

    As we age many if us realize that sports is just a release. Some find other ways : some don’t. Either way I understand what you mean. Good post

    Liked by 1 person

  8. beautiful and honest piece… as a die-hard sports fan and someone who in his childhood, for three years spent a lot of time collecting and recording sports results in my journals and dreaming of being a sportsman one day or at least a spots commentator… I can really appreciate where you are coming from and I was reading you post with a smile… Next time, come and watch football with me when Croatia plays important game… I turn into this singing, cheering beast of a fan hihihihi 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I can relate, I used to hardcore judge sports fans because I found out all so pointless. I mean, I still do… but I’m slightly less of a hater now. They could just as easily call my passions (backpacking, writing, whateva) pointless and their opinion would be just as valid.

    Like

  10. Hey!
    This is my first time on your blog. I really wanted to read the Bali letter but Youtube doesn’t work in my country. It’s banned. Long story.
    Anyway..
    I didn’t grow up in England but I used to follow football religiously. Until I got a job that sucked the life and time out of me. But I still do watch whenever I can. It’s just different for everyone. Some people can relate and some can’t.

    You’re probably right about your evening with Freud. I like your sense of humor.

    Looking forward to reading more on your blog.
    Zareen.

    Liked by 1 person

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