You care more about the Trail Blazers than 99% of Americans care about a sports team. You attend games, watch games on TV, and listen to games on the radio; you do so on a very regular basis; you scour the internet for news about the Trail Blazers; you listen to radio talk shows about the Trail Blazers; you watch pre- and post- game televison shows about the Trail Blazers; you read this website which is devoted entirely to the Trail Blazers; and many of you have registered for the site so that you can express your own opinions about the Trail Blazers. You do so even though it has been months since they have played a game and months until they will play another. Tallying up the total hours you invest in the team in a given month or year would be next to impossible.
I wrote that paragraph in the second person realizing full well that I am guilty of all the same behavior. Between Dave and myself, we have written 20 posts mentioning Jerryd Bayless in the 17 days since draft night -- and he has yet to don a Blazers uniform (not even in summer league, which, by the way, we will both be travelling thousands of miles to attend).
I regularly celebrate this devotion and work actively to spread Blazermania and the word of Blazersedge.com pretty much every chance I get. Until recently, I saw no problem with this.
Then I came across the following passage from an essay David Halberstam wrote for ESPN.com, entitled "Sports Can Distract, But They Don't Heal."
The essay, written on the one year anniversary of 9/11, attempts to provide some context to the role that sports play within society. At the time, as you probably remember, baseball games were framed as a "return to reality", an escape or diversion for fans who were otherwise overcome with grief and sadness.
During that time of need, sports acted as much needed psychological therapy for a lot of people. People who didn't care about sports rallied to their local teams as a source of pride (and patriotism?); fans deepened their connections with their favorite team, viewing players, matches and scores as reliable benchmarks in a messy, unreliable world.
Curiously, though, Halberstam's penultimate paragrah reads:
I am made uneasy by those who seem to need sports too much, these crazed superfans who bring such obsessive behavior to games where complete strangers compete. There is an equation at work here: the more obsessive they are as fans, the emptier I suspect their real lives are.
Halberstam is as unimpeachable as they come. Thanks to his diligent research, careful word choice and light humor, I find it more difficult to disagree with him than any author whose work I have read extensively. Yet that paragraph reads like a direct indictment of us. I can feel the bullseye on my head and I can see one on yours too.
I hope he is wrong. I am terrified that he might be right. I leave it to you, Blazers superfan, why is Halberstam wrong?
-- Ben (email@example.com)
PS Sorry to bring up DH twice in the same week but I've been reading a ton of his stuff lately.