Maybe it's because I'm a nerd. Or maybe it's because I was no athlete as a child. Whatever the case, I'm just not that into sports. I never have been. It's not that it isn't in my blood--my father had a passion for the Cleveland Browns that was nothing short of fanatical. I remember when the Browns were in the playoffs against Denver in the 1980s. When Cleveland fumbled the ball and blew their chance at victory, my father fell to his knees, grabbed his chest like the guy from Sanford and Son, and said "You better pray, I'm going to have a heart attack."
Needless to say, the value of sports was not neglected in the Kucharski household. My mother wasn't too much of a fan. Sure, she would host Superbowl parties, but this was nothing more than an excuse to eat buffalo wings and other tasty treats. Even then, which team won really made no difference to me. I was in it for the commercials.
I have tried to care. I have tried to bring myself to some kind of emotional connection to the Browns, the Indians, or whomever. Yet, somehow I can't find it in me. Like the man who prays and keeps coming up wanting, I am the listless Cleveland fan. I just don't care. Whether the guy from this team beats that team ultimately makes no difference in my life whatsoever.
I feel a certain sense of guilt. After all, it is practically unamerican to dislike sports. In a country divided by religion, race, ethnicity, social class, and political partisanship, we can all come together to root on our local team claiming victory over the other guy's local team. Yet I just can't do it. I am so sorry. I'd rather listen to the marching band and space out.
For men, watching sports is supposedly a bonding activity. I was having a drink with a friend of mine, and he asked if I liked to watch football. I didn't want to let him down. I didn't know how to respond. The truth was I would rather watch paint dry than watch football. The notion of watching it for two hours seemed unbearable to me. I hoped he would forget the matter and not ask again. Thankfully, he didn't.
I know my local postman well. He's a sports fan. He listens to sports radio all day. He's a nice guy and I like talking with him, so I will briefly read the sports section online so I can have something to talk about with the guy. That's all I can handle. Sometimes the writing for sports columns is well done. Analyzing the psychology of this player or that is interesting to me, but the actual game itself is not.
For many people, sports is a good outlet. It allows them to identify with this tribe or that, and it provides the drama and entertainment that helps make life more bearable. Elementary and high school athletics teaches young kids about discipline, teamwork, leadership, and achieving goals. I think these are important lessons. I certainly support the rights of others to engage in sports--so long as they don't involve me in it.
There was a time when I briefly enjoyed watching the Cavs play. As a Clevelander, I knew they weren't going to go anywhere because Cleveland is cursed. Deep down we know that we suck and this prevents us from winning. LeBron James, as a native of this area, knows full well how to make it to the pinnacle of success and supremely blow it. It is written into his DNA. No amount of talent or team trading in the world is going to erase Cleveland from him.
Like many Clevelanders, I dislike LeBron James. I don't blame him for leaving Cleveland--that he had a right to do. I dislike him because he's a douchebag. His ego is out of control, he is unsportsmanlike, and his ESPN decision special was a shameless act of narcissism if I've ever seen it. That is why I dislike him. His personality stinks.
Perhaps as I grow older I will mature into the love of sports. Perhaps then I can join with my fellow man and worship at the church of the local arena. In the meantime, I feel like a heretic, and living in Cleveland, where religion is less important than football (just see the level of attendance on Super Bowl Sunday), it is a difficult place to be.