COLUMN: Are We Having Fun Yet?
Published: Sunday, September 29, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013 23:09
It took me almost two and a half hours to move. June 18 had turned into June 19 and somehow—by some miracle I both completely understood and refused to accept—there would be a Game 7 in the NBA Finals. The greatest event possible on my favorite sport’s biggest stage was about to come true for just the fourth time in my life, and I was too devastated to move.
The second Chris Bosh tipped the ball to Ray Allen, I knew it was all over. Sure, there would be overtime, but that overtime was just a formality. Watch enough sports and truly terrible instincts like these start to kick in. Miami was going to force a Game 7 against San Antonio, and the Heat were going to win that game.
So I just sat on my couch until 3 a.m. grew closer and closer, knowing five spaced out alarms waited for me very early that morning trying to keep me from missing work. Finally, Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose turned into Stephen A. Smith, and that was enough for me to call it a night.
On the way to work the next day I kept asking myself: “Is this any fun?” Is it fun to, round by round, latch on to an NBA playoff team just to watch them fall at the mercy of another team I’ve arbitrarily decided isn’t for me? Is it fun watching Texas football and basketball climb into what feels like a bottomless hole as the tenures of Mack Brown and Rick Barnes come to a close? Is it fun hearing “Chelsea Dagger” over and over again?
Not really. The series finale of Breaking Bad was on last night, and I can’t say watching that show is much fun either. It’sstunning and it’s exhilarating—but fun? Nope. It’s about as much fun as watching that ball leave Jesus Shuttlesworth’s fingers knowing the only place it can go is through the net.
I watched the first few episodes of Breaking Bad’s finale season on the same couch that I watched the Bruins, Spurs, Grizzlies, Warriors, Pacers, Thunder, Bulls, and Knicks get eliminated, and the events incited the same feelings. It’s a rush, and there can be really extreme highs. Steph Curry can decide to change all of the sliders in a real game and redefine how fun basketball can be. Carol can stare blankly at Mr. Lambert and hilariously drop her groceries in the driveway. But those boats beat on toward the same end, and that end is dread.
Somehow, probably just due to proximity, I’ve found a way to eliminate most of my bias to Boston College’s sports teams. It’s cool when they do well because it makes this job more fun, but when they don’t do well I don’t have any emotional reaction. I wish I could say the same for all other sports.
Whenever a ball is tipped or kicked off, a puck dropped, or a first pitch thrown, I can’t help but draw some sort of irrational allegiance to one side. Michigan against Kansas basketball? There’s no way I couldn’t pull for Trey Burke. A meaningless NFL preseason game? I’m definitely finding a few players who I desperately hope make the team because of a few random plays I saw them make in college.
In a lot of ways, it’s an absurd way to watch the most impressive athletes in the world. A concept started floating around a few years ago, emerging with the prevalence of NBA League Pass, of the “enlightened NBA fan.” Someone who can sit back and watch the Raptors play the Blazers on a Tuesday night in January and just appreciate the basketball being played. I wish that I was like that. A lot of times I try to be, but at some point during the game I’m going to get really pissed at Kyle Lowry for exploiting Damian Lillard’s poor defense, just like I’d get pissed at Todd for messing with Jesse on Breaking Bad.
Pissed and anxious and worried and out of breath—that best describes me during a game or during this incredible show that’s about to end. There are things that make me laugh and things that make me smile, like the ridiculous inflatable Raptors mascot, but that sense of dread will prevail unless the team to which I’ve aligned my allegiances comes out on top.
So, am I actually having any fun? Probably not, but until I can become one of these enlightened fans, maybe that’s okay. Breaking Bad is a moving piece of art as much as it is entertaining television.
I’m glad I’ve been along for the ride, just like I don’t regret watching Game 6 of Spurs-Heat, even if that meant I was sleepy-eyed at work the next day.
Some sports fans can enjoy every game. I can’t. They aren’t all fun, and that’s a little crazy. I’m okay with a little crazy.