I sat there hoping for a breakthrough. Knowing it wasn’t deserved didn’t deter my eagerness for it to happen. It would simply make the victory that much more amazing. Every time the score got within three or four points, I moved to the edge of my seat, eagerly waiting to see the miracle. As it turns out my hopes were in vain.
By now, those who know me, know that I am talking about the Duke vs. Lehigh game. I knew that Duke wasn’t playing well; I knew that even if they pulled off a victory they wouldn’t have deserved it; and I knew that if we were to win it wouldn’t be because they earned it. I hoped we would win this one, but I knew that they didn’t deserve it. That’s an odd switch of pronouns, isn’t it? We love including ourselves in victory, but we’re very hesitant to place ourselves on the side of the losers.
Clearly I am not the first person to ever notice this phenomena in spectator sports. It’s been well commented on that when our team wins we win, but when our team loses they are the ones who didn’t come through. After the Duke game I began to think about this more. Why is it that we are so eager to attach ourselves to a team, to talk about it as if we were members of that team? You know, the ever important sitting-on-the-couch-drinking-Coke-and-eating-chips guy. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that it probably has its roots in the fact that we all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
That would make sense, wouldn’t it? It explains why we are so eager to include ourselves in the victory but even more eager to bail when the ship is going down. We want to feel as if we are part of something bigger than ourselves, something that has a larger goal than an empty Coke can, a crumpled bag of chips, and an expanding waist line.
It also explains why sports are so popular in the first place. Being a fan is an easy way to attach ourselves to said “something bigger” without too much commitment. At most, this commitment may require me to buy cable, or pay to watch the games online, or, if I’m really fanatic, buy tickets to see a game in person. With such little commitment I can attach myself to the victory; I can feel great about how we won, but when the tides turn and the game starts going downhill, I can dump my team faster than a date gone bad. “We could have won that one but you messed it up. It’s not me, it’s you.”
I’m not against cheering for our favorite teams. Next year I’ll pull for Duke just as much as any other year. For the rest of this year I’ll pick and choose other North Carolina and ACC teams to cheer for until the tournament ends. Since we’re in Chile I may even choose a soccer (or fútbol) team. Should I pull for Colo-colo or the University of Chile? Even while I pull for my teams, though, I hope to remember that there are things in this world that I can connect myself to, things that will make a difference in my life and the lives of those around me, that are much more worthwhile. It will require a lot of me; Jesus said we must be willing to take up our cross to follow. The stakes are high; our very lives are on the line. Even so, I know it will be worth it; because if I tie myself to the right team, God’s team, the Kingdom team, the end, the “something bigger,” will be worth it.