I live near Philadelphia. If you have been in a cave for the last three weeks, you may not be aware that the Eagles just won their first Superbowl. Traffic light poles all up and down Broad Street were torn down, because the last things that excited Eagles fans want to deal with are traffic laws. Celebrations lasted for most of the week. A week during which Eagles fans bought the most championship gear that any fan base has ever bought. It was something to behold.
I’m not an Eagles fan, but I can appreciate the passion and the release of energy that comes with a championship because I am a sports fan. I understand the emotional roller coaster ride that is a football season. Non-sports-fans don’t get this. Maybe they never will. That’s fine, however, they really should avoid commenting on sports.
The phrase “it’s just a game” is demeaning to people who care about sports. It takes something we are emotionally attached to and belittles it. This may come as a surprise to the rest of you, but we are aware that sports are a game. They are also more than that. They are what we bonded with our dads and best friends over. They are the radio broadcasts that kept us company during long hours at work or lonely nights on the road. I used to fall asleep listening to baseball on my AM clock radio when I was a kid. They are the escapes we got to take after a hard week. They are one of the things that most effectively join together people from infinitely different backgrounds. We grew up playing and watching these “games” and they are a part of us.
For those that may still not understand the importance of sports to us, I am going to attempt a simple exercise.
Non-sports-fan: “I’m so depressed. All of my boy band autographs were stolen.”
Me: “Oh well. It’s just ink on paper.”
Non-sports-fan: “The power went out and the fancy cheese collection I had in the fridge went bad.”
Me: “It’s just coagulated milk protein.”
Non-sports-fan: “My favorite magic themed book series just concluded. I feel like I’ve lost a friend.”
Me: “He was just a muggle.”
Non-sports-fan: “Looks like I’m not going to make it to the Star Trek convention this year.”
Me: “It’s just an average sci-fi show.”
Non-sports-fan: “The pet parakeet that I’ve had since high school just died.”
Me: “It was just a bird.”
Non sports fan: “Blah blah blah… career …blah blah blah… politics.”
Me: “It’s just a game.”
It may now be painfully obvious that I have no idea what people do if they’re not watching sports. That’s not the point though. The point is that when we belittle what people care about, we belittle the people themselves. I could go on and on about this, but lucky for you, there’s a hockey game about to start.