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Posts from the ‘Sports’ Category

Sports: Living proof that God hates all of us

The UA basketball team makes me suicidal. (Photo by Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star)

It will be a surprise if I love my children as much as I love the Arizona basketball team.

That sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But that’s been the primary thought in my head since the U of A, my beloved alma mater, ended its turd of a season Saturday with a turd of a loss to a turd of a team, thereby missing the NCAA tournament, thereby sending me into a depressed funk that likely will last until Thanksgiving. Of 2016.

Why do people care so much about sports? There is nothing more ridiculous than emotionally investing yourself so deeply in a team (or teams) that, even in an outstanding season, will break your heart. It’s like having a 50-year marriage to the most amazing person and then, on your deathbed, she confesses, “By the way, none of our kids are yours.”

That brings me back to my opening statement. Of course I’ll love my future children even more than the UA basketball team, but it seems like a serious stretch at the moment. My relationship to Arizona basketball is as personal as anything I’ve ever experienced.

That’s perhaps the most humiliating admission I’ve ever made, but it’s 100 percent true. I love Arizona basketball more than I love most of my family members, so if my kid can’t hit an open jumper with the Pac-12 championship on the line, then what possible joy can he or she bring me?

Even the best teams regularly fail and make their fans cry. The weird chicken outfits only increase the pain.

It’s stupid. Rooting religiously for a sports team is stupid, all-caps STUPID, and it’s even worse because the stupidity leads to depression.

I’ve been dealt some serious blows in my life, the worst imaginable, yet my generally cheery disposition never let me linger too long on the heartache. Truthfully, the only pain I ever dwell on is the sting of an Arizona basketball season that ends without a national championship.

Guess what? In my 30 years on Earth, 29 have ended in misery. And the UA is an elite program.

The first year I was old enough to really appreciate sports was 1988, the Wildcats’ best season ever, the year they were destined for the throne. The thought of them falling short never entered my mind. So on the night they lost in the Final Four, I walked from the TV room into the kitchen and quietly sobbed into a bowl of popcorn.

Six months later I had open-heart surgery. Final Four loss + broken heart = surgery. Simple math.

I cried almost every season thereafter, well into adulthood. In 2001, I was just shy of my 20th birthday when an incredibly good and likable Wildcats team lost the national championship game to Duke. There were probably 15 people in my apartment for the game, and I cried in front of all of them. That night I got drunk on a Gatorade/vodka mix and peed on my young neighbor’s tricycle. (I’m not proud of what of did, but I’m not hiding from my past either.)

And I’m still pretty convinced that I had a mild heart attack during the UA’s NCAA tournament run last year, when they were one shot — one INCH of one shot — away from the holy land, the Final Four. The image of Jamelle Horne missing that shot literally keeps me awake at night, 12 months later. It will forever.

Don’t worry, Jamelle. You aren’t the only one who’s haunted. (Photo by Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star)

Is this not the most pathetic story you’ve ever read? What kind of idiots are we to be so obsessed with this nonsense?

Take the New York Yankees, a team I love on nearly the same level as UA hoops. The Yankees are the best professional sports franchise in the history of the world. (That’s not hyperbole, either; that’s the truth, Ruth.) Anyway, every year they are very good, and many years they are the best team in baseball.

But every time they lose a game, it ruins my day. I become a little angry at the fact that I’m still alive. Now consider the fact that the Yankees lose 60 to 65 times in an excellent season. That’s two full months of bad days each year, all because the Yankees lost a baseball game. (This doesn’t include the playoffs, when a loss is worse than having to spoon naked with Jabba the Hutt.)

My wife will give birth to a child in six months, and I’m supposed to help mold this kid into a fully functioning citizen of the world, a person who has a handle on his or her emotions in order to successfully navigate life. Based on what you just read, do I sound qualified to dish out advice on rational behavior?

Normally, I’d say yes. But now, in the wake of the UA’s most recent season-ending failure, I feel like breaking your fingers and throwing your cat in a dumpster.

Bear Down.


Living in a fantasy world of nerds

Three guys walk into a bar.

One is wearing wizard’s robe, a fake white beard and introduces himself as Gandalf’s cousin, Blargonzodorf.

One has a bowl cut reminiscent of Lloyd Christmas and a button pinned to his Dance Dance Revolution T-shirt that says, “Math is radical!”

And one looks like Bradley Cooper, dresses like George Clooney and spends his free time managing four fantasy football rosters and worrying if a shoulder injury to Tom Brady will prevent his team, Mayor of Pimpville, from beating his friend’s squad, LadiesLoveMy6Pack, to win the fantasy league trophy made of empty Keystone Light cans.

Tell me: Which of these three is the biggest dork of all?

I don’t think the average person fully understands the severity of dorkiness that resides deep in the souls of people who play fantasy football. Because it is associated with the NFL (America’s most popular sport) and is based on the real-life actions of world-class athletes, its participants are mostly given a reprieve from being what they are: a monstrous collection of nerds.

You cannot deny your place among the village of nerds just because you’re a fan of a manly sport like football, or because you otherwise look like you belong to the “in” crowd. You are a weirdo who does weird things in a fake football league. There’s no way around it.

Today, I’m sad to admit that I am a fantasy football dork of the highest order. I don’t dress like Clooney, look like Cooper (he’s no Gosling, anyway), nor do I have a team nickname that instantly identifies me as The World’s Biggest Tool, but I must acknowledge that I have a problem.

I spent nearly the entire weekend thinking and worrying about my place in Sunday’s fantasy league championship. It wasn’t unlike the anxiety a regular sports fan feels before a favorite team plays — except for the fact that my team doesn’t really exist.

Here is fantasy football explained to the layman: Take 10 green army men, give them names, and give each “player” points for their actions during the course of a battle against another team that is being controlled by someone else in another state. Agonize over the fact that you used one player instead of another, thereby costing your team valuable points, and then sacrifice precious hours of sleep doing Internet research in order to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Then go call your parents and apologize to them for disgracing the family name by being such an enormous dweeb.

That’s how I felt yesterday when I realized what a loser I am. I was a nervous wreck all day. I ignored my wife for a handful of hours (oddly, she didn’t seem to mind) and contemplated suicide every time the tide appeared to turn against me. I flipped back and forth between the day’s four TV games, and I had three games on at once on my laptop.

I cherished every point I accrued as though they directly benefited the life of my unborn son, Indiana Jones. No one in the history of nerddom was as pathetic as I was yesterday. I made George McFly look like the prom king.

In defense of fantasy football players, there is money on the line — and sometimes it’s a nice chunk of change. Nonetheless, it’s amazing and humiliating the things we fantasy team owners do to put ourselves in the right competitive mind-set and in a position to win money.

I am not admitting that I have done any of the following, but I guarantee you there is a substantial number of fantasy football players who have:

  • Given their team a pregame pep talk to encourage maximum effort
  • Staged a press conference in their delusional minds to answer questions about their team’s performance
  • Discussed (out loud and to themselves) their reasons for using or not using certain players, as though they were real NFL analysts
  • Prayed incessantly for God’s help to beat Da Bone Crushers in order to make the playoffs
  • Refused to brush their teeth because their current winning streak began one Sunday four weeks ago when they were hungover and forgot about basic hygiene

This is the community I belong to. If I were still in high school, I’d be getting swirlies all day long. Fantasy football dorks were made to have their heads dunked in toilet water.