Being a sports fan is exhausting.
Well, let me specify — being a Bay Area sports fan is exhausting. Well at least right now it is.
It’s almost a sneaky little case of “Be Careful What You Wish For” with me. I’ve been a huge sports fan my entire life, but I have yet to see my team win a championship. I’ve yet to feel that incredible sensation being a fan of a champion (the Giants don’t count, although I did a pretty good job of faking being a Giants fan the two years they won the World Series). I have been dreaming of the day when my teams can finally escape irrelevancy and futility and field a semi-decent, semi-competitve team. I wanted this, I truly did. But I never knew the kind of toll it would take on me.
At this moment in time, two of my teams have made it to the second round of the playoffs. Both the Warriors and the Sharks are currently in the middle of their championship run. As much as it’s exhilarating and enthralling, it is also physically and emotionally draining.
I sent a text to my friend the other day saying I think I need a valium or something when I watch my sports teams because I get way too into it. Of course, that text was sent the day after the Warriors’ epic meltdown against the Spurs on Monday night. But the valium would have helped, as I was a depressed little puppy Tuesday morning. He was depressed, too. I also suggested I think we both need professional help*.
*One could argue I probably need professional help for other things outside my sports mania, but that’s neither here nor there at this point. We’ll cross that bridge when we arrive.
During my depressed Tuesday, I knew I needed a pick-me-up. How did I suppose I was going to get this pick-me-up? Well, I basically just told myself, “If the Sharks can close out tonight, I’ll be happy again.” This is my drug. I am an addict and a dependent.
Tuesday night, the Sharks faced a game 4 versus the Vancouver Canucks of whom they were up 3-0 against. For the first time in San Jose history, the Sharks had the opportunity to sweep a playoff series. The last time the team had the opportunity to sweep a playoff series was when they were up 3-0 against the Detroit Red Wings in 2011, and the series ended up being extended a full 7 games. During this time, I made the unfortunate fan mistake of mentioning the s-word immediately following game 3’s win. And like any typical, delusional sports fan, I believed that because I mentioned the s-word, I was the reason the series shed about 10 years off my life. I believed I had an effect on the series. It was all because I mentioned the s-word.
But I learned my lesson this time around. I didn’t say the word at all because I didn’t want to jinx it, especially since I had been going through absolute hell all day replaying the last 4 minutes of Monday’s game and stupid Manu Ginobli and his stupid big nose and game-winning shot. I couldn’t take it.
Then later that night, Patrick Marleau scored the game-winner in OT. I went from depression to sheer joy. Not only did they just eliminate the Canucks in stunning fashion, but I was also lifted out of the black hole that Warriors had thrown me into. It was instantaneous. No longer did I remember how Richard Jefferson missed 2 clutch free throws. No longer did I question Mark Jackson’s reluctance to put Bogut in the final minutes of the game (if only for defensive purposes, more specifically to guard the inbound passer). No longer did I get pissed off seeing Ginobli’s ugly face (well, I still do, but that’s besides the point). If those two days weren’t an emotional rollercoaster*, I don’t know what is. But through all of this, the only thing that mattered was that the Sharks had won and earned themselves a spot to the second round of the NHL playoffs.
Which also meant I have at least another 2 weeks of pure torture ahead.
*An emotional rollercoaster in sports is fun. An emotional rollercoaster in life is not. Is this a not-so-subtle reference to my personal life? Probably. But fuck it.
Whoever schedules the Warriors and Sharks playoff games is quite the genius. For the past 2 weeks, I’ve had a game to watch every day because it’s the Warriors one day, the Sharks the next. This sort of schedule allows me to go through my emotional highs and lows with absolute ease. But it’s also incredibly exhausting. Emotionally taxing. I feel like I’m in a really volatile relationship — where the highs are really high and the lows are the lowest of lows. There is no middle ground.
As demanding and as tortured as I may sound in this post, I cannot deny that the past couple of weeks have been ridiculously enjoyable. There’s an innate sense of pride when your teams experience success, especially when you’ve stuck with the team through it’s down years. Coming back to that volatile relationship, you know if you just stick through it and continue to be there through the bad times, good things are going to happen. Amazing things will happen, but you have to be patient and willing.
I’ve been patient and willing with both the Warriors and Sharks for a long time. They both drive me crazy. But I’ve waited and waited, and finally got what I’ve been wanting. And I have to say, if I didn’t have the dog days, I wouldn’t appreciate the time now. The feeling is indescribable. But I love it. And I don’t care how exhausted I am. Maybe I just need a Red Bull.