When sports becomes too seriousSometimes (and far too often), it seems like the emotions and reactions that come with the games we love go too far.
By: Sarah Packingham, Duluth Budgeteer News
As an avid, enthusiastic sports fan I know how it feels to "live and die" by the success and failure of your team.
I remember the top-of-the-world feeling when "my" team won a championship, such as at the conclusion of the 2010-11 college hockey season when the University of Minnesota Duluth men's hockey team won the first national championship in school history after Kyle Schmidt scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Michigan.
On the flipside, I remember the sick-to-my-stomach feeling when the Vikings lost to the Saints in the NFC Championship game in January 2010. I can replay the final, heart-stopping moments of that game in my head so clearly that it's going to be challenging for those sports-induced "wounds" to ever heal.
As I've matured and experienced my fair share of rollercoaster highs and lows, I have been able to be more in control of how I feel after the outcome of a game. I used to be boastful after a big victory or sometimes I'd even cry after a loss. After seeing the hyper-exaggerated way some people react, I have learned that sometimes it's best to keep your emotions under wraps.
Sometimes (and far too often), it seems like the emotions and reactions that come with the games we love go too far.
I remember leaving a UMD hockey game with my mom when I was probably 13 or 14 and seeing a fan of the opposing team, lying beat-up on the ground with his broken glasses next to him.
I went to a Twins versus Brewers baseball game in Milwaukee and saw a fan freak out to the point that everyone around us was worried he was going to have a heart attack – all because a homerun was taken back.
Recently, there have been stories in the news that have made me worried for sports fans everywhere. Here are just a few examples of taking sports too seriously.
A few weekends ago, the Green Bay Packers lost their first game of the season, ending their hopes of a perfect season. According to an article on the USA Today website, a 36-year-old mother became irate at the loss and allegedly choked her daughter on two separate occasions. She also threw her dinner plate onto the floor, broke a lamp in the room and tried to punch her husband in the face; all because the team lost a relatively meaningless regular season game, bringing their record at that time to 13-1, still the best in the NFL.
A few weeks ago, a Twin Cities suburb father punched his son in a crowded school hallway after his son’s team lost at a youth basketball tournament. According to an article on the Fox Sports website, other parents had to separate the father from his son.
When a sports loss takes a turn for the worst and ends in physical violence, it has gone too far.
A few years ago, I went to a Vikings playoff game against the Cowboys. I was sitting next to a diehard Cowboys fan who was extremely respectful of me and my team, even though his team was getting destroyed on the field. He complimented the play of Brett Favre and our offense and he was quick to say that the defense looked strong. That's what sportsmanship is all about.
At the game, I held a sign at the game asking Jared Allen to marry me. I asked him to "just mullet over." Walking to the car following the game, we passed fans of all kinds. One of the Cowboys fans on a passing bus even gave me the finger as I walked with young, impressionable kids close by. I wasn't waving the sign around or showboating, I was just trying to get to my car. That put a slight damper on an otherwise pleasant sporting event, and sadly it's something that has become rather commonplace when people become so emotionally invested in a sporting event and also happen to consume alcohol at the same time. It makes for an embarrassing, uncomfortable fan experience.
Kicking back and watching a game is supposed to be a time to relax and enjoy some healthy competition. What it all comes down to, though, is that sports is just sports and there are things in life that are, and should be, more important.
Sports, as is baseball, is often called "America's Favorite Pastime." And that's just what it is, a pastime; something we should all be able to enjoy whether our favorite colors are purple and gold, green and gold, or any combination you can
In the end, it's just a game.
Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes a monthly sports column for the Budgeteer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.