March 1, 2016

DENSON | Sports: Our Cathartic Tool for Redemption

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“The structure of sports inherently inspires situations of redemption,” said assistant sports editor Joon Lee ‘17 in his column earlier this semester. I could not have said it any better myself, Joon, but I’m going to try. I admire your appreciation of the cathartic nature of athletics — the primitive emotion of competition brings us in touch with our anxieties, desires, fears and, most importantly, aspirations. Much like the athletes that play a given sport, we share their emotion on the field.

Let me bare my soul in this column — as I usually do. We find therapy in everyday activities, in the mundane to the extreme, but the lines are blurred with sports. Even the mundane athletics bring out the emotion in all of us. Herein lies the beauty of it all — that sports itself is the catharsis — the therapist, or the escape, if you will.

Fandom is an irrational concept itself. It is something that many have loved in vain, because, as pessimistic as this view might be, the individual needs the team more than the team needs the individual fan. Feel free to disagree with me, but attaching emotion to numbers is like hoping that the Cubs will win a World Series. Numerically it is unlikely, but still possible. There just is not much logic there, but we cling to, pray, cry, smile and jump in joy at the anticipation of a championship, and the subsequent dreary loss of our hope. With athletics I’ve learned, as poets have written, hope lies to mortals but man’s deceiver was never mine. This way, when I expect the worse I’m not let down. Maybe this is my nature as a depressed — yet pleasantly surprised — Mets fan. I believe it takes a certain type of understanding to accept irrationality, and almost — to understand it even.

The irrationality of fandom allows us to connect to something bigger than us — something that we can easily understand and share emotion with those around us. Think of it as a never-ending movie, but it is a drama, comedy, horror and everything else. The offseason is intermission and pre-season is the preview. All that you hoped for will happen to a team — and all that you’ve feared will also happen. As a subsection of society, a team allows us to channel our emotions. And as we all know, men are not nearly in touch with their emotions as are women. Perhaps this why statistically more men follow sports because deep down we need it as an emotional tool, while women are inherently smarter and don’t need the emotional crutch.

Let me drill this word into your head. Catharsis. See, even if you are a Raiders fan, you are equally happy as a Patriots fan. Same goes for Bobcat (now Hornets) fans and Celtics fans … and so on. Each and every franchise serves an emotional purpose, and it is this irrational hope that keeps us going. Even though I am a pessimistic fan, do not be like me. Do as I say, not as I do. Because why would you not be a fan when all you need is hope, because really, even if you are a lowly 76ers fan, anything is possible. Take what you love and let it become you. Let it envelop your psyche, and make it your own. That way, when you fail — and you will — you can look to your cathartic tool for redemption.