Years of watching sports, good and bad and hours and hours invested into the pastime often leaves you wondering why I do this. Why am I not doing something more productive like cleaning out the garage? Sometimes you sit or often lying there in a relaxed state, taking in a golf tournament or a football game where your team in not playing and no emotional expulsion will take place. The minute you see something that is truly an outstanding feat, your brain triggers your body to respond in rapture. The second your favorite team has an umpire or referee make a call against your squad, the blood and venom boil over and something not very pretty comes out of your mouth.
The weekly column will explore the depths of our little brains for the reasons we watch the athletes and sporting endeavors of the day. Week One, Column 1 is geared at hero worship.
Our sports heroes are not always the first ones we saw on TV or at the stadium, for me it was the older neighbor kids that were good basketball and baseball players. Our neighborhood was filled with families with kids, this being the era of the baby boomers. This was a time before video games and child abductions so we played outside constantly without adult supervision. When I was idolizing the bigger kids on the block, I also was really into wrestling and roller derby. These sports offered bigger than life action heroes that where fighting good against evil.
As I aged into teen years, I often gravitated to athletes that where not the biggest stars of the day. I found something in them that I discovered in myself even if I didn’t know it at the time. I remember liking odd balls like Mark “The Bird” Fydrych”, Pistol Pete Maravich and Billy “White Shoes” Johnson. They all had something unique about them that were nontraditional that I still find myself gravitating towards.
I sure you can see your own personality in the athletes and heroes you chose to follow in your formative years. If you liked Reggie Jackson, the slugger or Michael Jordan growing up then you probably like the best of the best in most things in life. You demand excellence in yourself and others you deal with on a day to day to basis. Take a look, there is some validity to my simple little personality test.
Why do we as spectators and fans need our heroes? Most of the time it is because of the skill level of their performance that we admire but it is also because we see ourselves in them. We admire not just their physical gifts but it can be the way they handle themselves on the field of play. Nowadays I find myself rooting for the older players who haven’t received all of the high accolades of others in their playing career. Okay, I am sucker for the underdog. On the contrary, the worst thing you can be called as a fan is a “band wagon fan”. You know the person that starts wearing the team jersey when they are in first place because everybody likes a winner. If are the fan of the team that just lost the championship, does that jersey get put away until they are winning again?
The most recent of sports heroes to transcend to the highest of highs to be placed on the mantel of immortals has to be the recent feats of LeBron James. Sometimes he has been the goat and heel but say no more about his efforts in the NBA finals. He willed his team to beat the once invincible Golden State Warriors and gave the city of Cleveland its first championship in professional sports in fifty two years. Until he delivered on that promise he made he was not going to hear the end of the criticism. Congrats to LeBron James, The Cavaliers and the city of Cleveland.