I’ve never been a sports fan. Growing up, I’d pick my sports teams by how much I liked their name (Tigers) and I don’t think I ever watched a full game. The thing I didn’t get was — why watch a game if you can play it?Then, something changed. Three years ago I was invited by my in-laws to a local ice hockey game. It was fun. A lot of fun. The game was quick and the team was seriously skilled. It was near the end of the season so we were only able to make it to one more game after that, but the next year we went to a few more games. Then when we went to the US last year we made it to two hockey games, one in California (Kings vs. Ducks) and one in Toronto, Canada (Leafs vs. Senators). This season we made it to every single home game, two away games and all three finals for our home team, the Newcastle North Stars.
I think it’s safe to say I’ve become a fan.
The thing is, the more committed I become to the sport and to our team, the harder I find it to accept my role as a spectator. I’ve never done it before. In the past when I’ve liked something, I’ve joined in. I love to read, so I started to write. I love music, so I learned the guitar. Netball, touch football, singing, flute, political groups, journalism… I’ve tried my hand at all of these. But ice hockey? Never going to happen.
We made it to the grand final over the weekend, but we lost the championship by one point. It was a blow, I’ll admit. Somewhere along the line I’d changed from ‘spectator’ to ‘fan’. I’d become invested in this team, these players, this coach, and I thought they deserved to win (still do!). I came away from the game not knowing how I was supposed to react. When my netball or football team lost a game, at least I could say I tried my best, but in this case there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t bolster the team. I couldn’t let them down. I could only watch.
I’m still not sure how to feel about this. Should I invest less? Should I volunteer in some way? Should I keep buying jerseys to assist the team financially? Should I travel to more away games? Less?
I have no clue how to be a fan. Being a spectator just isn’t in my DNA.
When I’m feeling low about something I try to search for a productive outlet for my energy. Receive a rejection for my writing? Send out another query, or write another chapter. Jeans feeling a little tight? Go for a run.
I think I’ve found my productive outlet: Hockey team loses the grand final? Enrol in ‘learn to skate’ classes.