Thursday, May 17, 2007

Peeking Into The Mind Of A Sportsfan

On Tuesday, I wrote about Kentucky "losing" star recruit Jai Lucas to Florida, and how that could affect the college choice of another of UK's recruits, Patrick Patterson. Yesterday, Patterson announced that he was headed to Kentucky, and understandably Wildcats fans are fired up about it. Towards the end of the AP article Kentucky fan Ken O'Roark was quoted as saying:

"I think this is potentially the biggest recruit we have signed in 20 plus years since Rex Chapman."

Wow, that covers a lot of recruits, and players from two national championship teams. I told you they were fired up.

The second part of O'Roark's quote, however is what really struck me. After the Rex Chapman reference he went on to say:
"I am elated and I think he made a great decision. He will be adored and loved by UK fans for his tenure at UK and forever."

Loved by UK fans for his tenure at UK and forever, huh? To me, this is a perfect example of how a sportsfan's brain works. You see, sportsfans are wired a little differently than non-sportsfans. They get their "fix" with every win over a hated rival, and any type of championship just fuels the "addiction". All the while, the non-sportsfans watch with a mix of caution, curiosity and disdain. To them, sports are just a game.

After reading O'Roark's quote I wondered if there was a way for me to depict how a sportsfan's brain might look. You know, how the pieces, labeled in layman's terms of course, might all fit together. Well, I found a brain picture, swapped in some easy to understand terms, and now I'll break down how it's all assembled.

Check Out The Big Brain On...You!

Before I go any further, though you might be asking yourself what type of qualifications I have to be speaking(er...writing) on this matter. As if the fact that I run my own sportsblog(yes, it's a very exclusive club complete with jackets) wasn't enough, I'm also a sportsfan just like you. I'll use the example of Chris Leak playing for the Gators as an example.

I graduated from UF. I very much enjoy watching the Gators football team. In 2003, I was very much like Mr. O'Roark in that I was extremely happy that a prized recruit, in this case Chris Leak, was heading to Gainesville to quaterback the Gators. I distinctly remember pumping my fist at the TV as Leak announced his decision during halftime of the Army All-American Game. I believed that he would bring greatness back to UF as soon as he took his first snap in "The Swamp". Over the next four years, I rode the rollercoaster that Leak took Florida fans on. One second it was fist pumps and high fives. The next, it was curse words and broken TV remotes. The kid who was supposed to do no wrong seemingly couldn't do anything right. Eventually Leak took us all the way to the top, and delivered on his championship promise that he had made four years earlier. Though, like I said before that just fuels the "addiction". Now you see where I'm coming from, though in that I too have had nothing but love for the "next big thing". Only to watch it from the edge of my seat as it took years off of my life(and we're talking the good ones, not the crappy ones at the end). Just remember Mr. O'Roark, it might be all Grey Goose and Cristal right now, but could easily end up box wine and Steel Reserve and that "forever love" mysteriously becomes forever lost.

Anyway, enough about Sexy Rexy's new prodigy. Let's talk about brains!

In that picture up there you'll notice that there are five main components. Here is what they are, and what they do:

Best Team In The World: Maybe your team has just sandwiched a national championship in football between back-to-back men's basketball championships(only us, suckas!). Or maybe it's a little less dramatic like the star QB just completed a long pass on a crucial 4th down. Or, maybe it has nothing to do with an actual game, like they landed a top ranked recruit. Whatever the case may be, they are #1 in your mind and they can do no wrong. Sure, the head coach is having an affair with your mom and he won't give you any tickets, but it's all good because he just guided your favorite team to another championship.

Worst F'in Buncha Losers Ever: This is 180 degrees from the Best Team portion. Whether it's a bonehead shovel pass that's intercepted by a defensive lineman and taken the distance, or the drafting of an injured wide receiver when your team really needed a quarterback. At that moment in time you're ashamed to be associated with your team, and you're seriously considering setting your place on fire and starting over without them. Trying to find a balance between the two is a driving force in the sportsfan's world. One note here, it's fine for you and other fans of your team to hate said team, but if any outsiders do so that's grounds for a beer toss.

Love/Hate For Referees: You'll notice that there's a thin "line" seperating the first two parts, and that it references referees. In many cases, a sportsfan's emotions are determined by certain calls that a ref makes. Sometimes the sportsfan believes that their team is getting hosed by the refs. This makes them angry, and adds jetfuel to the hate part of the brain. Other times they're happy to see a certain player get what he "deserves"(technical foul, foul out of game, get knocked the f@#k out), and that amplifies the overzealous support from the love part. This doesn't apply only to refs, and can be used to describe the influence of other outside forces like top 25 rankings, bowl selections, etc.

Food & Beverage Planning, "Drunk Logic", Misc. Information: Now you know why everything seems like a good idea after you've kicked back a few brewskis. The logic space is shared with a number of different items all fighting for control. At any sports related event, food and drinks are always a priority. Wings, pizza, subs, kegs, etc. It doesn't matter as long as they're there, and there's lots of them. However, that doesn't just happen on its own so some planning is involved. Miscellaneous information also shows up here, and usually consists of statistics about your favorite team. Ones that outside of a sports setting would either make you seem like a weirdo or a dork, or both. Like mentioned above, this is also where regular logic and "drunk logic" do their delicate two-step. The "winner" is usually determined by a number of factors, including: amount and type of alcohol(that Canadian beer is like moonshine!), score of game, point in season(earlier in the schedule hope springs eternal, later on and the cashier at ABC is your new best friend), and type of game(a rivalry game late in a perfect season is a recipe for mixing obscene amounts of various liquors and using sick days at work) just to name a few.

Attention To Other Things While Favorite Team Is Playing: As you can see this "compartment" is the smallest of the four. That probably explains why your house burned down around you while you watched your favorite team win a championship as your wife and kids hauled ass outta there. If you're a sportsfan, then I'm sure you've experienced this time and time again. Another person, usually a non-sportsfan, tries to engage you in a meaningful discussion while you're watching a game. Perhaps on the subject of global warming. A few muttered "yesses" and head-nods later, and the other person is convinced that you believe the universe is a giant microwave and that someone is just pressing the "quick cook" button to screw with us. Obviously, they're not aware that in a sportsfan's brain the attention to others part struggles to function correctly when everything else is in use, and it's because all that attention has to be focused on the team or they will lose(go ahead coach, we can use our brain power to convert 4th and 20).

So there you go, a handy guide to exactly what a sportsfan's brain looks like, and how it all fits together. I suggest that you print out a copy of that picture as a quick way to answer any questions that a non-sportsfan might have concerning your fanaticism.

1 comment:

Ken O'Roark said...

Glad to report it is still Grey Goose and Cristal!