Sports Fan Satisfaction

Monday September 26th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

Being a sports fan involves a passionate level of psychological commitment that usually begins in early childhood and takes root for a lifetime. Sometimes it only ends up being a single sport, but quite often it spreads like a contagious disease and involves two or more.

Most people tend to cheer for their home team if they have one, and in my case growing up in Milwaukee in the ’70s I had several. The earliest exposure to sports I can remember is watching football on TV with my grandfather. I found it funny that he would yell at the screen, knowing even then that nobody but I could hear him. That was my gateway drug.

Gramps used to explain to me how the game worked, and the only reason I’d watch was to spend quality time with him. One day he opened up the sports section of the newspaper to show me the standings and explained that there were 26 teams and if I was going to be a true football fan, I needed to narrow it down to a single one and cheer for them always.

He told me I could pick any one I wanted, but when I made my choice that was the one I had to stay with for the rest of my life. He loved the Packers, and dropped not so subtle hints to that fact like atomic bombs. I was an easy mark, and promptly chose them too.

Little did I know much pain, heartache and suffering I would be in for throughout most of my childhood years. Long gone were the Lombardi glory years and in their place was a cheap and ineffective replacement of sub par regimes headed by Dan Devine and others.

College football was no better. Living in Wisconsin, the logical choice was to cheer for the home state Badgers, who were supposed to be members of the Big Ten conference but it ended up as the Big Eight and Little Two. Wisconsin and Northwestern were always the bottom feeders, and everyone else would stomp them to death like sissies at a biker bar.

Baseball was a similar experience. The hometown Brewers were brutal, and always way out of contention by July or earlier no matter how hard I hoped it would be different every year. It wasn’t until I was almost out of high school that they finally managed to turn it all around, but by then the damage was done. I was an abused puppy, used to getting kicked.

The only hope I had was basketball. The NBA Bucks were perpetual winners and had a pair of superstars in Oscar Robertson and then Lew Alcindor before he changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. They were amazing to watch, and I followed them religiously.

It’s all different now, and I love it. The Packers are rolling like an out of control freight train taking everyone out who crosses their path, and the Brewers won the division in fine style and look to be contenders to win it all. The Badgers are an absolute powerhouse too.

Funny how the Bucks are now perpetual doormats, and the NBA might not even have a season. Too bad for them. Nobody cares. We’re all too busy enjoying the rest of it and it’s a golden era like never before. I wish I could have had it as a kid, but I’m enjoying it now.

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