SARAH PACKINGHAM - Sports brings us togetherI am a sports fanatic, and there’s nothing wrong with that. “Fanatic” is where the word “fan” comes from. I always have been one and I always will be. Anybody who knows me knows that sports is a huge part of my life. They know I’d rather be in the stands at a Bulldog hockey game or watching a Twins game on TV than doing almost anything else.
By: Sarah Packingham, for the Budgeteer
I am a sports fanatic, and there’s nothing wrong with that. “Fanatic” is where the word “fan” comes from. I always have been one and I always will be. Anybody who knows me knows that sports is a huge part of my life. They know I’d rather be in the stands at a Bulldog hockey game or watching a Twins game on TV than doing almost anything else.
Growing up, I tried to play a few sports, but didn’t have much success. In college, intramural broomball and club rugby both seemed interesting, so I gave them a try. I’ve never had as physically demanding of a workout. My body was sore for days, but I found a new respect and appreciation for the game. Likewise with broomball. My teammates and I were never the best, but we had fun, which is what intramurals are all about.
But I didn’t let my lack of ability on the field or on the court stop me from loving sports.
At a young age, I’d go to hockey games and envision myself as the sports reporter, writing mock articles detailing descriptions of what I had witnessed. In high school, I began my journalism career with an article for the school newspaper about the basketball team’s effort at the state tournament.
I’ve memorized silly meaningless statistics and entire rosters. And I spend my Sundays watching football and following my fantasy football team in a quest for my first playoff berth and championship.
I’ve learned more about the rules for each sport and really find myself enjoying them even more than I ever did before. Even this season, when the Twins were losing more games than they were winning, I couldn’t stop watching. Night in and night out I would watch as the Twins fell to 99-63 and I would wonder, why couldn’t I stop watching?
The answer is simple.
It’s because sports symbolizes being part of something bigger than yourself. It’s because of the way it can bring people together in times of tragedy. And it’s because of the pride a team can bring to a community.
OK, maybe that isn’t so simple, but it makes sense to me.
Following a team allows you to stake a claim in who they are and what they accomplish. You get to travel the ups and downs in a season just as a member of the team would. You can be the sixth person in the pitching rotation or the extra player out on the ice. Players often say in post-game interviews that having the crowd cheering for them was just like having another member on the team, giving a huge emotional boost to them all.
While following a team, you can live out your dreams, the hopes of seeing your team win a championship. Or not. The fans of the Chicago Cubs may be down at the end of every season, saying “Wait ’til next year” but they aren’t down for long, knowing that there always is a next year.
After national tragedies such as Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina, when it seemed as if the world was on hold, sports was there to bring us together. Immediately following Sept. 11, there was a week off from football. Then America watched together as teams, specifically those from New York, returned to the field. On Sept. 23, 2001, the New York Giants faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs in their first game since the attacks and the crowd was emotional and full of American pride. The final score didn’t seem to matter; many felt that the game was a win for the country. And how can you describe the emotion of the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl in 2010, just a few years after their stadium had been the symbol of despair?
Finally, I love feeling pride in my community following a big win or bringing home a championship trophy.
I have never gone to UMD, having spent four years at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, but have been overjoyed in the national championships for both the men’s and women’s hockey teams and the football team in recent years. Bulldog pride filled for those young and old. I have never been to a Minnesota Lynx basketball game, but I was excited when a team from our state won the WBNA title this season. When the 2009 Twins had to win an extra game to make it to the playoffs, I was overjoyed and excited to take on the Yankees, even though my team went on to lose.
That’s not a fair-weather fan. That’s a fan. And that’s what I am.