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Sant-Miller: Fans need to keep perspective (Nov. 7)

Aaron Sant-Miller | Thursday, November 7, 2013


We’ve all been there, when you’re lying resolute in bed and refusing to move an inch. It’s that sense of nausea that hits you when you encounter certain visual cues. It’s the feeling of shame that seems to ooze out of your every pore. It’s the metaphorical rainy cloud that follows you throughout your day, wherever you go.

You feel sick, but you’re healthy. You feel wounded, but you have no physical ailments. You just want to rewind, hoping it was all a dream.

No, I’m not talking about the morning after a rather adventurous evening. I’m talking about the morning after the team you maintain undying loyalty to crumbles in utter defeat.

On Monday morning, that was yours truly, as I still struggled to overcome the Baltimore Ravens’ woeful loss to the Cleveland Browns.

No, I’m not going to sit here and vent about the horror that is the Baltimore offensive line. I’m not going to whine about underperforming players, poor officiating or foolish play calling. Those were the complaints of Monday. Today, after recovering from the physical, emotional and spiritual trauma that was the loss, I have been able to reflect.

I can guarantee you this. Not one of the 53 players on the Ravens active roster knows I exist. Sure, I know what each player’s strengths and weaknesses are on the gridiron and what colleges they attended, all while clinging stubbornly to a handshake I shared with my dear Ray Rice. But, alas, not one player on that roster really knows about Aaron Sant-Miller, the senior at Notre Dame.

I have, approximately, zero influence on the outcome of their games and I feel no direct effects of a win or a loss. Nonetheless, I’m in bits over every poor play and every foolish decision. During better weeks, I’m simply euphoric, as the team claws its way to victory over a bitter rival or dominates a weaker opponent.

Is this healthy? No, it really isn’t at all. Is this absurd when you think about it with some perspective, removing yourself from the situation? Oh, absolutely it is. Is this a common response and feeling in this country? Sadly, yes it is.

We love our sports. We fall in love with the players, their skill sets and even their biographical backgrounds. At some point, we get lost in it all, in a life vastly removed from our own. This week, we had the joy of Ryan Lochte’s torn MCL, suffered not during training, but as a result of the leap of an exhilarated teenager, eager to touch the gold medal winner. That’s not a joke. That actually happened, and that’s not ideal.

Preferably, we, as sports fans, can find some perspective. We need to extricate ourselves from the tumultuous realm of fan-ship. Sure, for those players, it’s a job, a career, a future and, truly, a life. But those are the players. For us fans, it’s a game, a form of entertainment, a product put on display for the population at large.

Crazy fan-ship can become bad news fast. Not only can you become lost in the quicksand of anguish that is a losing season, but you can also lose touch with your own life. You forget to enjoy the real world you live in and filter out the people around you, failing to take advantage of the opportunities right at your fingertips. That’s risky business.

It’s almost too easy to get caught up in this fantasy world. In all honesty, it’s fun; it’s exciting. Many of my favorite collegiate experiences revolve around sports and the incredible games I’ve witnessed (see Notre Dame men’s basketball’s upset of No. 1 Syracuse in January 2012).

That’s all it should be, though. We should try, somehow, to maintain a semblance of perspective on our lives and the teams we love. We should find entertainment in the games and enjoyment in the victories, while walking away with treasured memories. At the same time, we should preserve enough distance to avoid the pit of woe that follows a loss or the consequential abstraction from our present world.

It’s a fine line to walk and some can do it. Props to them. Me? Oh, you’ll find me sobbing intensely into a pillow Sunday night if the Ravens fall to the Bengals. Sure, I can aspire to such perspective and understanding, but let’s be real: I’m a die-hard Ravens fan and this is what we do. Cheers to tears.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.