If I added up the time I spend watching football, researching players, and writing weekly fantasy recaps for my league, it would probably be at least a part-time job.
The San Francisco Giants are the World Series Champions!!! No one outside of the amazing city of San Francisco believed it could happen, but the Giants fought back against the haters and the odds to sweep the Detroit Tigers and win their second title in three years.
The series –- and especially Game 4 –- was a thing of beauty to watch, and even now, 14 hours later as I sit at my desk, a dense fog blanketing the city, I can feel something in the air: an electricity that only exists when an event unites an entire city in pure unbridled joy.
The best part? It’s not a feeling that dissipates quickly. Giants’ fans across the world now have the honor of carrying the World Series win with them for an entire year. When we see other fans in the streets, we’ll give each other a knowing glance. “We did it,” we’re thinking. “We won the World Series. WE are the champions.”
On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of fans will gather for a ticker-tape parade to celebrate our victory. We’ll high-five. We’ll chant. We’ll hug strangers. I’ll hope no one rubs his junk against my ass. We’ll all come together to revel in a common cause: The 2012 San Francisco Giants.
And it will be amazing.
The camaraderie. The jubilation. The joy. There’s nothing quite like it. It fills you completely. Makes you grin ear-to-ear. Makes you glad to be alive in a way you usually aren’t.
Which leads me to wonder: What do non-sports fans have in their lives that's comparable? What do they do for that feeling of community and pride? What torture do they willingly bring into their lives all with the hope that ultimately it will lead to a feeling of pure ecstasy? Do people who don’t love sports have a way of experiencing the feeling that comes with a team’s win or loss, or is that level of emotion just not something they ever experience?
It’s no secret that I’m not really into touching and that my idea of complete hell is being forced to hug a stranger. And while that’s totally true, there’s something that happens the second I step foot into Candlestick or AT&T Park that changes everything. Suddenly I’m high-fiving everyone and their mother. A few weeks ago, I had to apologize to the guy next to me for hitting his arm every time I got really excited.
“It’s cool,” he said. “No problem.” Because he got it.
There’s a feeling that happens in sports where you’re literally so overcome with emotion and excitement that the only way to release it is through physical contact and tons of guttural yelling.
There’s a joy to winning, or even to just a really amazing play, that is unlike any joy I’ve ever experienced. It’s a happiness that makes me throw my hands in the air, tilt my head back, and scream, “Yessssssssss!!!!!” as loudly as I can. There’s also a pain to losing that hurts more than any other disappointment in my life. Sure, I cried when I was forced to quit my job a few years ago, but not like I cried when the 49ers lost to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game last year. Not even close.
Because the only thing that takes over all of my emotions in a way that’s completely overwhelming is sports. So I ask again: what do non-sports fans have that wholly consumes them in the way that the torture of competition does for those of us who love our teams more than anything on earth?
For athletes, it’s playing the game, of course. But other than that, I can’t think of a single life event that contains the same build-up, anticipation, and release as winning an important game. And yes, I know -- I just made that sound like an orgasm. In many ways it kind of is like that, except SO MUCH BETTER.
Plus, it’s not just the glory of winning that feels so wonderful. It’s the build-up to the games. It’s walking into the coffee shop and talking about the game last night. It’s seeing a stranger on the street in your team colors when you’re 3,000 miles away from home and saying, “Niners!” as you pass. It’s like a secret handshake, but one that anyone who follows the team is allowed to be in on.
I know there are lots of people who just don't like sports. And that’s okay, although it does bug me when people bitch about sports being on television or that so many of us discuss them. It doesn’t make anyone sound more intelligent or cooler to whine about something that so many people feel passionately about. And, hey, we aren’t complaining about you talking about that funny thing your cat did. Again.
Yes, I’m fine with the fact that lots of people don’t like to follow professional sports. What I don’t get is why. Because as far as I can tell, there’s nothing else that will give you the agony and the ecstasy quite like watching your team make a run for a title. And, god, it just feels so damn good.
I guess what I’m trying to say, for those of you who don’t like sports, is that you’re missing out on this crazy rollercoaster of emotions. And I don’t want you to. There are plenty of seats still open. Why not take the ride? You won’t regret it. (Well, likely you will as the chances of your team actually winning a World Series or a Super Bowl or an NBC Championship or the Stanley Cup are pretty slim, but still: SO MUCH FUN! I PROMISE!) It’s never too late to become a fan. And I promise: it’s worth it. So very, very worth it.
Speaking of: Congratulations to my San Francisco Giants. You made hundreds of thousands of people the happiest people on earth last night. You brought the city together for the second time in three years in a way that is not possible through any other means but a championship. You have heart, determination, and we fucking love you.
Thank you for everything you do for me, my friends, the fans, and this amazing city in which we’re so lucky to live.
Now 49ers: It’s up to you. You can do it. I believe.