Monday, May 21, 2012

What May 21st Means To Me: What Money Buys

This question is for all the die-hard sports fans out there.  The ones who spend an inordinate amount of time on or their favorite team's message board.  The ones who actually get angry when their favorite team loses, but are also elated when they are victorious:

If I offered you 15k right now, but in exchange, you forfeited any chance of your favorite team ever winning a championship, would you take the money?

I think the knee-jerk reaction for most would be to cash that check before the person had a chance to renege the deal.  After all, there's a lot that you can do with 15k, and, also, economic concerns will differ from person to person. If you're poor and 15k might be the difference between life and death, then obviously you should take the money.  But when I was first posed this question by a friend of mine, my immediate thought was to not take it. 

For me, watching football is more than something fun to do on Sunday afternoons in the fall.  It's stupid, right?  Why should I care so much about a game?  Especially a game where I have zero control over the outcome.  A game where I know none of the players personally, and they certainly do not care about my well being.  For me, watching sports is more than a hobby, it's actually some sort of identity.  While I'm a far cry from a soccer hooligan, as my devotion to my sports team will never land me in jail (or in a hospital), being a sports fan is part of who I am.  It's a conversation point and common ground between me and many other people my age. It's the basis of a community, both on the internet and the real world, which my interest places me in.  There's comfort in that.  But since the root of being a sports fan is grounded in competition, and because no one likes to root for nothing, taking the goal of the ultimate prize away would cause rooting to be futile.  That 15k would be much more of a sacrifice than one might think. 

Then again, as I've said many times, though passion for anything that isn't unhealthy could be seen as a gift, a die hard sports fan deals with disappointment more often than not, and I curse my fandom with each loss.  I could probably replace all the energy I devote towards sports with something a bit more productive, but humans need passive interests just as much as we need productive ones, and sports more than fits that bill.

Fortunately I'm also in a situation where 15,000 dollars would not be life-changing money.  Don't get me wrong, it would be nice. If you handed me 15k right now, I'd take the day off and skip home while singing Journey and Bon Jovi songs.  But after careful thought, it probably wouldn't change my day-to-day.  It would certainly make it better for a while; perhaps my next few meals would be tastier, my next vacation a little more upscale, but it certainly wouldn't alter the landscape of my life.  But if you removed interest in sports from my life, there would be a huge void that would need to be filled.  Of course I'd adapt, and I could very easily fill it will something more satisfying, but I find comfort in my fandom, the community that forms around it, and the endless conversation I have with peers because of it.  It's nice to feel like I'm part of a team, even if I never throw a ball for them.

So, if I had to choose right now, I'd forgo the 15k and be a glutton for punishment.  I'm not sure what this says about me...but probably nothing good.  Now 60k?  SOLD. 

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