I'll admit it: I was late to the professional sports game. So to speak.
I don't think I had ever watched a complete kick-off-to-grudging-handshake football game until about five years ago. I didn't watch a full hockey game until the post-lockout, post-Crosby days. Even now, I get kinda bored halfway through seasons. In any case, because of this, I never caught a lot of the diseases that afflict the sports fans. I can't rattle off historical statistics unless they involve the number of jalapenos I downed at last year's AFC championship game.* I don't care enough to work out wild card scenarios until maybe the last game or two of the season. I can't bring myself to give two shits about college athletics unless I have a C-note riding on the outcome.
And: I was never one for superstitions in sports.
I know people who swear by it. Players will not step foot on the team emblem on the floor, dare they jinx that night's game. No one says the name of the penultimate award lest all chances of victory go straight to zero. Quarterback had a franchise-history-making game? Looks like that bottle of Aquafina is getting drank out of for the next six seasons.
But it's nothing like the fans. They come up with the most ridiculous things to swear by. People wear specific jerseys, hats, or--so help us all--undergarments. Fans drink certain beverages and sit in specific seats. Hard-core season ticket holders chant and dance, all because they have this notion that if they don't their beloved team will lose.
I just don't get it. Some day, Hines Ward is going to look straight into the camera and say, "You know, I had this game locked up. We had this in the bag, but then it turns out that Eric Slanikoski of Blawnox wasn't wearing his Bam Morris jersey backwards for a late afternoon away game, and that's why I dropped the ball in the 4 yard line and now we missed the playoffs. Thanks a lot, Eric. Looks like I ain't going to the Pro Bowl this year because you got behind on your laundry."
To each their own, I guess.
*34. I might not have remembered each one going in, but I was certainly reminded of each one going out.