Will Leitch, writing in his newsletter, had a profound paragraph about sports.
One of the best things about sports is that it gives us simplicity and clarity that real life cannot — and should not — provide us with. If we win, I’m happy. If we lose, I’m sad. But that’s not just true in the moment. When you cheer for a sports team, you make a lifelong commitment — you give a little piece of yourself to something outside of yourself that you have no control over, with no assurance whatsoever it will be treated with care, or that your investment will ever pay off. But when it happens, when it does pay off, when you get that thing you wanted so badly, it’s yours — you got it. You’re at the mountaintop. And you get to stay there.
My sports fandom consists of University of Illinois athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals. I do not have an NFL, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, or other leagues or teams that I consistently root for. However, I do enjoy watching sports in general when I don’t have a team to root for. NFL games are more fun for me to watch when I do not have a rooting interest. The same goes for MLB and NBA (although I guess I started being a “fan” of the Chicago Bulls since Ayo Dosunmu started playing for them. I will admit I liked the St. Louis Rams for a couple of years, but that was when they were good, won a Super Bowl, and all that. I was the very model of a modern major fair-weather fan.
I’ve seen the Cardinals win the World Series. I’ve never seen Illinois football or basketball make it to the top of the mountain. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.
Still, it would be nice to get to the mountaintop. Just once.