I wonder sometimes how others experience a sporting event. Whether they are watching it at home or at the game in person. Do they feel the highs and lows as their team goes from in front to behind and comes back to win a close victory?
There’s a struggle inside me that I’ve found through years of reflection and two college courses – philosophy and psychology. I don’t see sporting events the way I used to and in some ways it haunts me and in others I feel like I am better for it.
My passion for sports started at an early age. I craved that rush of football on Friday nights, Southern high school football is a religion, Saturday afternoon college games and Sunday pro games. I had to have my fix or else my weeks were not complete. When I could get other sports I had to gobble them up as much as I could. I was the rat in the cage hitting the button as soon as the light went off to get my pellet of food.
Studying the works of philosophers and the minds of others made me question what life is all about. Not that I have found any answers. The secret to life found in a sporting event? I don’t know. Is it going to make me happy? I don’t know. Some would say it’s a waste of my time. Are they right? I don’t know. Only I can make those decision to be fair. It’s up to ourselves to figure out what true happiness is to us.
Sports was what made me happy when I was that kid chasing the lights at the end of the week hoping for touchdowns and extra points. As I’ve gotten older I’ve looked at the writing of those before me to ask what it’s all about? What are we doing here? What have we learned? Does what I feel match up with others?
Sure there are millions who worship at the church of football on the weekend and I am good with that. You do your thing. It’s not been that long since I was there. Less than 10 years ago I was sitting behind the bench at a Virginia Tech football game watching them play Rutgers. Now I can’t tell you half of the roster much less the starters.
It makes me feel empty in a way – something that made me so happy for so long now feels so distant. It feels so worthless but I was the one that gave sports a value. It was me who chose to treasure a game. I made my own happiness in a life that revolved around sports.
What happens though when you try to find a way to play the games? When you try to pick up one of the most demanding sports at an advanced age but can’t complete one of the most fundamental actions? The ability to stop in hockey makes it difficult to play at any level. You can love to play the game but when it leaves you frustrated and pissed off at yourself how do you cope? You keep hearing that if you want to do something you try and try and you can do anything. Keep trying. At some point the doubt creeps into your mind and the happiness is pushed out.
Doubt and sadness begin to take over. The aches and pains of a body that does not recover or move like it used to lead to more agitation. Six months after beginning the process and looking back on what I’ve done, I’m not sure what I’ve accomplished. However, I never went into this with a goal.
Maybe that’s where I went all sideways – I should have had a goal. But goals can be good and bad. They can push you to achieve them but after you achieve them where do you go? Set another one? For some, you find yourself struggling to bother. For others you aren’t sure where to set the next one. I have a hard time setting goals because I don’t know where I’m going to end up. I tend to go with the flow. I find myself at the bottom before I see the waterfall.
The same is true with being a soccer referee. There was a happiness at one point. The ability to know a game so well that I could watch it and instruct it – giving the players the right way to do it. But others get involved and politics come into play. The happiness gets pushed out. Happiness is what you make it. Sure, it’s only happy and enjoyable if you are digging it. How can you enjoy it if every time you look up there’s another salvo coming your way? Keep your head down and don’t say anything? Sadly that’s not me – nor is it enjoyable. I don’t have to be in charge of everything nor do I want to be. I just wish to find the respect that I give to the game and the laws of the game.
So where does the happiness in sports come from? I write about it, watch it, learn about it and play it but it’s not like it used to be. At times it feels empty and I just don’t care. The philosopher in me says it’s what I made it. What have I done? Guess I’ll find out in time – I know that doesn’t always bring happiness.