I used to love the NFL. I was an improbable (and scorned) Vikings’ fan growing up in Wisconsin.
My best friend had just moved in from Minnesota and we spent hours upon hours running around in the backyard impersonating Fran Tarkington and the Purple People Eaters. We were purple, man. And maybe that’s why I love Prince so much, too.
I had all the gear. The jersey, helmet, blanket, slippers, you name it, and I could not wait until Sunday. It was easier for me to like the Vikings because they were good. Back then the Packers stunk.
But, as good as they were, the Vikings lost sometimes. It would crush me. I would be so bummed I’d sit in my room the rest of the day. It was bad. And, you may know, the Vikings have lost FIVE Super Bowls. I wouldn’t come out for days after those losses.
Eventually, I realized this was not a healthy practice and started questioning why I would care so much about an NFL team. It didn’t make sense really. I didn’t know any of the players, they didn’t call Minnesota (or Wisconsin for that matter) home, and they all made tons of money to play a game I played all weekend for free.
As I got older, I watched how other grown men acted watching their team. They were just so vested in the games, and a loss seemed to literally take a piece of their souls. I’ve even heard the mood in our nation’s capitol, the home to leaders of the free world, is dramatically affected by a Redskin’s win or loss. People obviously care about their teams!
I still like college sports, but have to admit even that is waning. Triathlon has had a direct impact on what I find important, and I’ve decided wasting my entire weekend celebrating corpse pose and watching football isn’t one of those things. I still care about the Badgers, but the fact that they already have two losses has far less bearing on my mood.
Essentially it’s the difference between a passive and active life.
I haven’t always led by example, but truly believe the purpose in life is to learn and grow. Without a goal or passion driving that process it’s easy to get caught in the trap of fading away; and for me that means living with guilt.
Today, I was flipping through the radio on my way home and landed on a sports talk station. Some guy called in and was asking a question about the Titans, but he prefaced it by saying how depressed he gets when they lose. “I stumble around the house for three or four days all bummed out.” The hosts, and even he, started laughing, but I thought it was sad. The Titans should have nothing to do with him, but the outcome of their games dictates how he feels.
So instead of watching football this Sunday, I will be swimming, biking, and running for 70.3 miles, and it will likely hurt. But I will be alive. I will be surrounded by people who would rather push their limits and “feel” life instead of sitting on a couch getting numb.
That said, I will likely spend a good chunk of Saturday in front of the computer watching the Ironman Kona World Championships, but I’m pretty sure that will have a different impact on my attitude.