'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
BREAKING THE EMOTIONAL TIES TO SPORTS
Have you ever had an embarrassing epiphany moment? No, I don’t mean a sudden bladder control problem during an important business meeting. According to Webster’s Dictionary the word epiphany, besides being a religious holiday, means “a moment of sudden intuitive understanding; a flash of insight.”
I recently had an embarrassing epiphany moment while watching my favorite sports team, the Boston Red Sox, behave badly against the New York Yankees. Now, usually the bad behavior the Red Sox display while playing the Yankees is their annoying habit of striking out with men on base or serving up hanging curve balls to Yankee hitters.
But this time the bad behavior involved the very things my wife and I taught our daughters never to do. Things such as swearing at other people, taunting them with rude gestures, threatening to kill them with a baseball bat, and throwing 90 mph fastballs at their head. Well, actually, I don’t think we ever warned the girls about 90 mph fastballs as neither of them could ever clock more than 70 mph on the radar gun.
Another bad behavior on display was grabbing a 72-year-old coach by the head and pushing him to the ground. We didn’t warn the girls about this one either, and now that both of their grandfathers are in their early 70s maybe we ought to, just to make sure there’s no unfortunate incident during Thanksgiving dinner. (“Hey Grandpa! I said…” [sound of Grandpa crashing to the floor] “…pass the sweet potatoes!!”)
As the ridiculous farce played out on my television set, ruining what had been a very exciting ballgame, my stomach churned with anxiety. All the anger and tension inside Fenway Park, over 100 miles from my living room, poured out of the TV screen and directly into my central nervous system. I haven’t felt that distressed and uncomfortable watching grown men fight since the Bush-Gore debates in 2000. (Oh wait, they weren’t fighting. It was uncomfortable watching them try to form complete sentences.)
The epiphany moment came when my one of my daughters reached over, grabbed me by the head, and pushed me to the floor. No, I’m kidding, that didn’t happen. My epiphany moment was the sudden realization that I just don’t need this garbage. I mean, I get enough stress from things directly connected to my life, such as my job, keeping up with the never-ending yard work, and wondering when bladder control problems will develop. (Probably during an important business meeting.)
I certainly don’t need a bunch of over-paid, arrogant baseball players adding to my stress level. The embarrassing part of this epiphany was when it dawned on me that a great deal of my personal joy or sorrow over the years has been based on the success or failure of sports teams.
When the Red Sox blew the World Series, both in 1975 and 1986, I was depressed for days. When the UConn Huskies upset Duke for the national championship in basketball in 1999, I was giddy with joy. You don’t need Dr. Phil to figure out that this is unhealthy behavior.
I have actually offered up prayers—real prayers to God—pleading that I could die in peace if He’d only let the Red Sox win once in my lifetime. (Can you imagine what God must think while listening to prayer requests? “Well, today there’s a lot coming in from starving people in Africa, many from folks in hospices, and another baseball prayer from that bozo in Connecticut.”)
So, it’s high time I break my dysfunctional attachment to sports teams. I will no longer allow my emotional state of mind to be governed by the athletic achievements of total strangers. From now on, I’m taking control of my happiness. My emotional ups and downs will be based on reality, on things which directly impact my life.
Whew! I feel better all ready. And in conclusion, all I can add is: Go Huskies! This year we’re going back to the Final Four!
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