I recently read an article from the New York Times about guys who are done with being sports fans (Game Over: These Guys Are No Longer Sports Fans). As I was reading I realized I’ve lived it. I haven’t stopped watching all sports completely, but I watch a lot less than a few years ago. More importantly, I’m not at all bothered by missing a game or by which team even won.
The Times article talked to one guy who was a Cleveland Browns fan, now if you know anything about professional football it is pretty easy to give up on being a Browns fan, but he shared an experience of sitting in the stands for a big win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014 and feeling nothing. That resonated with me big time.
I grew up and still live in Massachusetts. I was raised on the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, and Bruins. I thought the Olympics were amazing. My mother was a sports fan, my father took me to my first NFL game when I was six, and even my wife is a huge sports fan.
We were season ticket holders of the New England Patriots for 10 years. Not just any tickets, but the high-end club seats, which had all sorts of bells and whistles including our own private access road, which meant I never sat in traffic for hours like everyone else. I attended Super Bowls 36 and 38, both won by my New England Patriots. Being at Super Bowl 36 in New Orleans felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was thrilled before, during, and after the game. Then we went again, and won, and it simply didn’t feel as good as the first time, but after that second Super Bowl, we got to attend the team’s celebration party, which brought a different level of fun and excitement that will never be forgotten. I still get goosebumps recalling hearing New England Safety, Rodney Harrison telling the story of breaking his arm during the game and needing to stay on the field for another play.
The opportunity to attend a third Super Bowl came and I passed, as I did for one more time as well. Maybe as a player, each win is better than the last, but for this fan, nothing matches the first time. Over the last five years of having my seats, I cared less and less about the games. Maybe I was spoiled? I was witnessing one of the greatest runs in professional sports: winning was expected, so it became rather boring. I also stopped watching regular season Red Sox games after they won the 2007 World Series, the second one in my time. Perhaps I was more in-tune with the long-suffering New England sports fan than the modern, winning one?
At Patriots’ games, I jumped, screamed, and clapped like always, but I didn’t truly feel it as much. I was going through the motions of being a fan. I had 40-yard line seats for arguably the greatest coach in NFL history and one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game and I slowly realized . . .
. . .So what?
Attending the games no longer brought the fun and happiness I once felt. As I looked around Gillette Stadium wondering why, one obvious possibility was that many people were drunk. I stopped drinking at games a few years into my having tickets. When I tailgated and drank I had a blast, but I’d have to watch the news to see what happened in the game. Not that I was drinking to the point of blackouts, but I certainly didn’t focus on the game as much when drinking. I decided if I wanted to drink I should just stay home as the seats were costing me a lot of coin. The NFL schedule was the first thing to be consulted when any invitations came our way, and if there was a conflict, the Patriots always won.
As the seasons went on, I found myself looking around the stadium come Sunday afternoon at all the excited fans who seemed to be living and dying for their team. People who talked about being upset still from the previous week’s game, or how anything shy of a Super Bowl had them miserable for the entire offseason. By the time I got home from a game, the win or loss had no bearing on the rest of my life or even the rest of my week. Sometimes, I like to think I’d become enlightened and was more interested in living my life than watching other people live theirs, but I probably just had seen enough live football for me.
Regardless, I’ve never regretted giving up my seats following the 2012 season. I still watch the games on TV, but I also miss plenty of games too, something that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. I’m pretty sure on my death bed I won’t be saying I wish I went to more games or watched more sports on TV. I’ve met plenty of guys who don’t care about sports, but it seems they never were into sports to begin with. I’ve attended in person and watched on TV a LOT of sports events, but today I feel over it. Now I can proudly say, “I’m a man, and I don’t care about sports.”
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