Sometime, it's better to not be a fan to appreciate greatness
I will preface this by saying the only thing I truly know about soccer is that I do not know much about soccer.
Yes, I enjoy the game when it’s played at the highest level, I have nothing but admiration for the passion it evokes in fans (especially at the national team level) and I am astonished at times by the athletic ability of the players. What they do with their feet is stunning to me.
However, the technical aspects of the game baffle me at times, I do not have a rooting interest in any of the major European leagues and I would categorize me as a casual observer of the sport at best.
That said, I think I could watch that Lionel Messi play every minute of every game.
For some reason, I was in front of a TV for a large chunk of yesterday’s stunning Barcelona win over AC Milan and I tell you, I couldn’t take my eyes off the guy.
I would presume it’s like a casual basketball fan seeing LeBron James or Kobe Bryant play, or someone with a passing interest in tennis watching Federer do his magic.
We are drawn to greatness in sports no matter our level of interest and I think that might be the best thing about the whole sports experience: There are men and women who do the unimaginable and we are fascinated by them.
We don’t really need to know the nuances of the game and it’s probably better that we are only casual fans with no passion for either team in any specific game.
If you’re like that, let’s say you were some diehard Milan fan yesterday or a crazed Knicks supporter when LeBron goes off or a stunned Raptors fans when Kobe does his stuff, would you miss the poetry and the greatness of those beating your team?
Would you truly be able to appreciate what they can do if you’re too tied up in who wins and loses? I don’t think so.
Now, I realize moments like yesterday’s don’t come up every day and to keep our interest in the mundane games in seasons that are weeks too long people need to have a rooting interest in order to stay attached.
But for some us, people without an attachment to any team or player, I think in some way its better to watch games waiting to see what unfolds instead of hoping something good happens for those you care about.
It gets to the essence of sports, I think: Appreciating brilliance for brilliance sake, more interested in the abilities rather than the outcome.
So a friend and I are talking music a bit yesterday and since I’m of a certain age my tastes are a tad different but then The Verve gets mentioned and, you know, it’s not bad stuff. Everyone knows Bittersweet Symphony but this works, too, doesn’t it?
Yeah, that’s me, expanding my horizons one millimetre at a time.
We’re off tonight, right?
Things to do, people to see; sorry about that.
But I’m sure there will be questions that pop up and it’s never too late to begin pleading for questions.
You know the drill, the link’s over there or it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be nice to hear from you.
You know I think Orlando lacks any semblance of soul – I guess it’s a nice vacation spot for people with wee urchins but as a city it’s got a ways to go – and now I see that extends to the passion of its sports fans.
Maybe it was just the TV that I was watching or maybe it’s weak audio on this video but that was the lamest reception for a supposedly hated former player I can think of.
Those weren’t real boos.
Sure there were some signs in the stands and some venom spewed but Dwight Howard got off easily, didn’t he?
And him making all those free throws and dominating like he did should have put the fans into a frenzy of anger; instead it struck me that they cowered a bit in shock.
Some day, Howard’s going into Vince or Tracy McGrady or Damon and he’s going to chuckle at getting off so easily.
Yep, that’s another thing that Toronto fans have over Orlando fans, the ability to get steaming mad and stay that way for years.
So, if we get the Pope and we’ve already got the dude running the Bank of England what’s next in Canada’s apparent takeover of the world?
Oh yeah, the Raptors.
We were talking to Kyle Lowry yesterday after practice and when the discussion got around to the final 18 games of another non-playoff season and what they might be like, he once again gave us the word he’s used in several times in conversations over the past week or so:
That’s his mantra, that they have to go out and be professional, play every game hard, play to win above all else and while it’s the absolute attitude to have and it would be shocking if there was any other manner of play, it’s somehow good to hear him say it.
Look, these guys know exactly where they are and the level of disappointment is off the charts. No matter what they said publicly before, or what went on early in the season, they were burning inside about getting into the post-season.
Now that’s gone and the natural reaction is to take the foot off the pedal a little bit, to go through some mental and physical letdown as the final games unwind.
It would seem by Lowry’s words that they are doing everything they can to avoid that, to stay “professional” and provide entertainment value in each particular game no matter what’s at stake.
For all the people with tickets to the final game, and for all those who’ll watch them, we can only hope his attitude permeates the roster.