Sports fandom: What’s it all mean?

Dante Geoffrey

Meryl Streep is not often credited as inspiration for sports columns, but the Oscar-nominated star of the 2008 film “Doubt” acted through my mind as I struggled through this column.

Sister Aloysius Beauvier, Streep’s character in “Doubt,” devoted the entirety of her life to the Catholic Church, seemingly never thinking twice about her absolute belief in God. Only after years of scandal, tragedy and challenges from fellow clergy members did Sister Beauvier let doubt slip in between her and religion.

Sports are no different. Taken just as seriously as religion, sports can cause the same existential crises.

Because when you’ve been brought up your entire life to think a certain way, the taunting doubt acts as a catalyst for a quarter-life crisis.

Religious people and sports fans ask themselves many of the same questions: What does it all mean? Do I only think this way because my parents do? What happens when it’s all over?

And my favorite: Does any of this really matter?

Right now, I have to say the answer is no.

I first came to this conclusion a little less than a year ago, when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. As a lifelong Giants fan, I knew watching the team win a title should have been a much bigger deal to me. But I just couldn’t make myself feel it.

When Game Five ended, I was surrounded by genuinely happy Giants fans. Instead of being lost in the moment, I was consumed by awareness.

I stood there wondering, “Why doesn’t this make me happy?” I knew I was supposed to be happier and I thought that perhaps if I acted more excited I’d trick my mind into thinking I actually was happier.

I was glad the Giants won, I mean, that’s the point right? But once the game was over and the offseason had officially begun, what did it all mean? My life was the same.

I still love sports. In fact, I dedicate an irresponsible amount of time to sports. I get more ashamed over spending 45 minutes managing my fantasy leagues than I do after masturbating.

I’m constantly reading and writing about sports, and I’d like to continue to write about sports for a living. But I just have trouble identifying true fandom.

For me, the idea that sports fans are to devote themselves to one favorite team and honor thy team for that team is good, that team is true, is just ludicrous.

Even though I wouldn’t say baseball is my favorite sport, I would say I know more about the Giants than any other sports team.

So many people enjoy sports and pick favorite teams so they can live vicariously through something. “Hey! My favorite sports team did well! The competitor in me will share in this meaningless victory!”

But for me, as a Giants fan, I get more joy and feel more productive when the Giants are losing. I know, it makes no sense, but when they lose I can bitch and moan about why the Giants lose. How do I interject myself into the baseball season if they’re winning just fine without my expert analysis?

I think through this strange emotion I have found what I deem important as a fan.

I don’t care about the “team” so much as I root for organizations and front offices. I root for strategy and philosophy, efficiency and savvy. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

Players come and go but a good front office, like what the Boston Red Sox have built around Theo Epstein or the Oakland A’s have built with Billy Beane, make it easier to feel like you’re rooting for a permanent fixture rather than a bunch of moving parts.

Oh sports, I love you. And maybe someday I will understand you.

But I have so much doubt.

 

Dante Geoffrey can be reached at asports@statehornet.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @dantegeoffrey.