I was a huge sports fan not that long ago. I still am a sports fan, although not nearly to the degree I once was. I have attended just one MLB game since 2013 and just one NFL game since 2011. I did attend an NBA game in January of this year (Memphis Grizzlies), as the NBA has become my major league sport of choice.
I do attend University of Memphis football and (hopefully this year) basketball games because that’s my alma mater. The U of M has my unconditional support.
With the exception of one Nashville Sounds game in late June, I haven’t watched any sporting events since the end of the NBA playoffs nearly two months ago. I have a hard time sitting glued to a TV, and rarely watch anything other than the occasional movie anymore. That may change some during football and basketball seasons, but I find that I’d rather be doing other things.
I have a few theories as to my waning interest in sports. First, sports has become a god. I am disillusioned by the way we elevate professional athletes to larger-than-life figures. We worship them. I have no problem with professional athletes earning millions of dollars to perform and endorse products. I’m a capitalist and believe in the free market. I don’t appreciate the fact that attending a single major league sporting event can cost a family several hundred dollars. It’s just not worth it anymore. I’d rather spend my money elsewhere.
Granted, I do enjoy watching professional athletes perform, because so few can perform at their level. Individuals who are the best at what they do fascinate me, and I like watching hard work pay off that way. So I don’t resent them. I just don’t worship them.
Second, watching grown adults reduce themselves to adolescents at sporting events is a turn off. I cheer for my team, too, but I’m not going to make a fool of myself in the process. I’m joyful when my team wins, and a bit disappointed when they lose, but I’m not going to sacrifice my dignity by living and dying with my team.
Also, I no longer wear team jerseys. I simply refuse to wear another man’s name on my back. I’ll wear a shirt or jacket with a team logo, but I’ve become more conscious these last few years about dressing like a grown man and there are some ways grown men ought not dress.
Finally, and I apologize if I come across a bit conceited, but there’s no other way to put it. Since I started running half-marathons back in 2014, I have created my own sports. The thrill of finishing a 13.1-mile race has partially replaced the thrill of watching other athletes celebrate their victories. Granted, I’m no threat to actually win one of those races, but just finishing a half-marathon and accepting a finisher’s medal has become my own sort of championship. Running 13.1 miles is incredibly difficult for me, as I never was a gifted athlete, and I don’t derive the same sort of thrill by watching others. I have my own sports now.
I’ll never perform in front of a large crowd or on TV. But joining thousands of other runners on race day and hitting the pavement as part of a crowd gives me a rush I can’t achieve any other way. So rather than relish other people’s glory, I now have my own accomplishments to build upon.