From the outside looking in, Boston sports fans probably seem crazy to almost everyone. We stand outside in the blazing hot sun of July. We huddle together on freezing nights in October and bundle up and stand outside in a blizzard just to support our local heroes.
When trying to answer the question, “why do people watch sports?” I thought I would answer with why I watch sports. I watch sports because my family always has, because I love the drama that sports provide, because I feel like being a die-hard sports fan connects me to something bigger than me and because sports have taught me lessons that I would not have learned otherwise.
Boston sports have taught me over the past 10 or so years how to be a true die-hard fan, how to lose and how to win. They have taught me that sports can be magical as long as you believe. They have taught me that sometimes, you just have to believe in something when everything else is telling you to give up. I have come to appreciate that sometimes you do not get what you want, but that does not mean you should give up hope that one day you will achieve your goals.
Magic is the reason that little kids dream of growing up and becoming professional athletes. It is the reason that parents drive their kids to rinks at 5 a.m. for practice. It is the reason that grown men cried when the Red Sox captured that World Series trophy in 2004. It is the reason that for the last five minutes of the Super Bowl in February, everyone in the region was collectively holding their breath and holding out hope for a miracle when it looked like another championship had slipped right through our grasp.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, a local historian, credits her love of baseball to the beginning of her love to tell stories. In her book “Wait Till Next Year,” she wrote, “from something as simple as the small red scorebook in which I inscribed the narrative of a ball game, I saw the inception of what has become my life’s work as a historian … it would instill in me an early awareness of the power of narrative, which would introduce a lifetime of storytelling.”
The drama of a Game 7, or the last drive of the Super Bowl or the final seconds on the clock cannot be written. Movies, books and television shows strive for the best drama they can, but the drama provided by those things will never match up with the drama that is provided in sports arenas across the country and around the world. The drama of sports cannot be matched because it’s real. It is actually happening. It is not predetermined by a script or story, but rather unfolds in real time in front of everyone.
The Red Sox beating the Yankees in four games in 2004 was the best drama on television that week. The playoff run of the 2010-11 Bruins captured the attention of everyone in the Boston area, and the last five minutes of Super Bowl XLIX retained the country’s attention. Movie directors and screenwriters dream for this type of magic to appear in their work on the big screen, and sometimes it does. Sports, however, will always be appealing. The captivation that is felt as the clock ticks down to zero will not and cannot be matched.