I was raised on sports. Specifically, I was raised on BYU sports (and USA sports during the Olympics). Some of my earliest memories revolve around these sports--I could recognize and signal for a touchdown when watching football on TV before I could walk. If you go back and read the few journal entries I made during my teenage years they often revolve around BYU football--it was the era of Ty Detmer--and who they were playing on the coming Saturday. My love of sports hasn't changed any as I have aged--although I much prefer BYU basketball to football now--but I had thought that I was approaching a new zen about how I view my sports teams and their wins and loss. You see, once upon a time my world seemed to shatter when my team would lose and it would effect me for days. Somewhere in my 20s, though, I began to handle these losses much better--gained some perspective or something. All was good. I loved my teams. I wanted them to win. But when they didn't (and sadly they often didn't) I could move on without stewing over it pretty much as soon as the games were over.
All that--all my maturing, growing up, perspective, zen finding--has changed with this year's college basketball season. I am stressed. And not only am out stressed out when they lose (fortunately not often this year) but I am stressed out for days before they play (and they play about twice a week which means I am pretty much just stressed out)--I think that perhaps I was never stressed out before games as a teenage because back then, just as I was immortal, my teams were immortal which perhaps says a bit about why it was so hard when they did lose.
What is different about this year?
Well, one possibility it that BYU is good--as in really, really good (at least comparatively speaking). And they have this player named Jimmer (perhaps you have heard of him) who is really, really good--and is in the running for several MVP of the Year type of awards. But I have cheered for teams that have won national titles before and not felt this kind of stress.
Another possibility: while I don't actually know any of these players or coaches, I do feel a bit of a connection of faith with most of the players on this year's team--can I just say how tickled I was when Jimmer went on ESPN TV and in response to a question testified of his knowledge of the truth of the Gospel with which we share a belief. But again, I have cheered for teams (pretty much any BYU team) where I have felt this same connection and not felt this kind of stress--I have even cheered for teams from BYU who have won national titles and not felt stressed by the combination of both a good team and a team that shares my faith).
Really, I am at a loss. All I know is that I so badly want this team and its players as a group and individually to play well--and not even for me the fan but for them and the work they and their coaches put into what they are doing (see I am not totally regressing back to my teenage years when I wanted my teams to win because if they didn't I would be upset--at least sort of right?). Clearly what I need to do is pay a bit more attention to one of BYU star players (Emery Jackson) who, when asked about his future in the Europe or the NBA, emphasizes that his focus right now is on completing his University degree and not on what possibilities may come to him if he decides to pursue basketball professionally. See, Courtney, sports is not everything!
Still, with the biggest game of the season looming on Saturday, I find myself in bed for the second day in a row praying that I haven't let this all get so out of control as to actually make me ill--please, please, please.
And please, please, please let them play (read: destroy the other team--obviously in a loving Christian sort of a way--oh that last comment is so fraught with discussion possibilities that we won't go into right now) well on Saturday.
I think I need to find some chocolate and some peanut butter.