A big week in sports, with three super-major accomplishments: The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, Golden State beat the LeBrons for the NBA title, and my son Jake’s team scored seven runs in the bottom of last inning for a 12-11 tournament win.
Man, do I love sports. The players, the stories, the adrenaline rush — it’s all good. My family’s typically not so into it, but as the Blackhawks clinched Game 6, I realized we were all on the couch cheering them on.
We were looking at jubilant players and raucous fans as I explained the traditions of the Cup and the playoffs in general. It was late and the kids were a little slap-happy, and I found myself frustrated they weren’t treating this moment with the reverence it deserved. This was the presentation of Lord Stanley’s Cup! This is honor and history — not, as Jacob put it, “a big silver wine glass.”
But if you’re ten years old, that’s exactly what it is. It’s a funny-shaped silver mug that bearded men lift over their heads as they skate around, having just played a game.
So when, and why, does that change? Why do sports mean so much to so many people?
Because they end.
Sport seasons are finite. They have a defined amount of time — whether we’re talking a game, a season, a tournament — to achieve a goal. There’s a defined set of rules to succeed. They win or they lose.
As fans, we’re passionate about the build-up and the drama around each phase, and we commit to it. We’re not even on the playing field. We find ourselves not just with favorite teams, but favorite players, rooting for their professional success, supporting them every chance we get. I will never meet Tramon Williams or Aaron Rodgers or Jordy Nelson, but that doesn’t stop me from having replica jerseys in my house. We identify with them.
You know who I don’t display that exuberance for? Me. Or my coworkers. That would be silly, right? I’ll see my coworkers tomorrow and the next day, always. Eventually they or even I may leave for new jobs, but the routine is ultimately the same: Forty- or fifty-some years of professional achievement, because that’s life, and that’s what we expect to happen every day for forever.
As a wise man once sang, forever’s a mighty long time. What if we consciously measured that time differently? What if we worked for a season, not the duration of our lives? What if we could look at a professional scoreboard and knew if we won or lost? Would we gear up for work differently, with better focus on the day-to-day? Could it make us more effective, working harder for shorter sprints? Would we need someone to root against as much as we need to cheer ourselves on? (Most importantly: Would we get jerseys? Of our co-workers?? Could I get a #47 Berrones home jersey?!)
We work as we live our lives, expecting there’s always a tomorrow. Sports teams can’t afford to do that.
And we love them for it.