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The Emotional Toll of Sports Fandom

By: Stephen McDonald

LA Angels celebrate their 3-2 win over the Rangers(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Texas Rangers lost to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3 to 2 the other night, which shouldn’t affect me. The outcome of a game played by people I have never met against another group of people that have no relation to should have no bearing on my feelings about myself whatsoever, but it does. I feel weak, stupid, and I feel like a fool because the team I have chosen to follow wears Texas across its chest.

That’s the funny thing about being a fan. We keep playing the odds when we know the odds are stacked against us. Every year I invest more time and money into the Texas Rangers than I can properly afford, and every year I am disappointed. Maybe that’s a good thing, but it’s probably not.

Dell, yes the computer company, originated in my hometown and is still based in Austin. It has a much more real and tangible effect on the outcomes and livelihoods of people that I know and share my last name; yet, I do not check the stock prices of the company daily. I do not read articles about meetings of their senior executives. I do not pay money to watch the announcement of their latest computer. On a day-to-day basis the doings of Dell do not register on my radar.

Maybe it is my grandfather’s fault. For as long as I can remember I would spend a couple of weeks a summer in the north Texas town of Jacksboro, and every summer my granny and poppy would take me to Arlington to see the Texas Rangers.

Ivan Rodriguez, Rusty Greer, Juan Gonzalez, and Rafael Palmero were the names that first introduced me to baseball, and I would return home with arms bursting full of jerseys, posters, hats and pennants for the Rangers. So maybe that’s where the curse of fandom began.

Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)


I keep listening to sad Brad Paisley songs trying to re-imagine that last at-bat: what if Josh Hamilton hadn’t chased the outside curveball and the Rangers actually won the game? Whatever the case, I have attached a large portion of my self-worth to the Texas Rangers and it is not going to change anytime soon. I just hope that tomorrow a group of highly paid professionals can defeat another group of millionaires in a game that has direct effect on my life. (By the way, they did 7-3)

But that is the absurdity of fandom. As sports fans we attach meaning to these arbitrary contests and decide, like a group of spoiled children, that we cannot be happy if we don’t get exactly our way. It is stupid, it is foolish, and it is sports.