Why do we watch sports?
As a fan of the New York Mets and New Jersey Devils, this is a question I get asked all the time.
The last two years, the Mets have held leads of 7 games and 3.5 games with only 17 games left in the year. Both times they missed the playoffs. Both times I was in the stands to watch them get eliminated.
The Devils won the Stanley Cup in 2003. Since then, they have just one playoff series win. This year they won a team record 51 games this year, only to lose in the first round of the playoffs. Once again, I was in the stands to see them get eliminated.
With the disappointments year after year, it’s a fair question to ask.
The answer lies in one game: Super Bowl XXII.
Also a Giants fan, I have watched them my whole life. I watched them get beat around in Super Bowl XXXV. Two years later, I watched them blow a huge lead in a playoff game to San Francisco. Just two more disappointments.
But on February 3, 2008 they had a chance to make all the disappointments a thing of the past, even if they were huge underdogs. They were playing the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.
They won that game, 17-14. Watching the Giants finally come through and win the Super Bowl made me forget, even if only for a day, all the times they blew big leads or got beaten up and down the field.
It made me forget that the Mets had collapsed in September is record fashion.
It made me forget that the Devils had been eliminated in 5 games in the playoffs the year before.
It made me forget about everything else, good or bad. It was worth the disappointments to experience the win just once.
It’s the reason Cubs fans still love the Cubs even though they haven’t won a World Series since 1908. They know that someday, sometime it will happen. And when it does it will be that much better because they had to wait so long for it.
They had to suffer for so many years just to win once.
It’s why Red Sox fans stuck with their team for 86 years before they finally broke their World Series drought in 2004.
It’s why I will continue to stand by my teams even when they disappoint every year. Because I know someday they will win another one.
And when they do, I’ll be able to say I stood by them through the bad years. Through the “Art Howe” era. Through the collapses. Through the first round playoff exits.
Sitting through all of that, you feel like you’re part of the team when they finally win it. You feel like you somehow helped the team get through the bad years and win a championship.
That is the reason we watch sports.