Friday, October 07, 2011

World Series or Bust?

This is a (slight) re-write of something I posted last year at about this time. Unfortunately, it's just as apt now as it was then.

Last year at around this time, I got to thinking about what constitutes a successful season for a sports franchise. Not from the perspective of players, coaches and front office personnel of the team, but from the point of view of the fans.

As spectators, what is our primary motivation for watching our favorite sports? I'm sure the answer varies a little from person to person, but I think the common denominator is entertainment. That is, we watch the games because they are enjoyable to us. Does it get any simpler than that?

Taking this a step further, why do we choose to follow a particular team, rather than just let ourselves be entertained by individual games in which we're less personally invested in the outcomes? I would assume the answers to that question vary a little more than the first, but, I think ultimately it boils down to increased entertainment level.

So, my point here is really to ask the question, is the only entertainment value associated with rooting for a specific team to witness them win a championship? If the answer is yes, then it's a pretty said state of affairs, because that means we spend 5-6 months a year worrying about an outcome that most likely will never happen.

I contend the answer, in fact, is no. We root for a specific team because it provides us with added entertainment value, and that value is measured on a spectrum, rather than being an absolute either/or proposition. That is, the more successful our team's season, the more entertainment value they've provided us with. If they kept us believing they had a chance to win a championship for over six months—and survived only a few weeks less than the most successful teams in the league—then they did a very good job of entertaining us.

Don't get me wrong, here. I'm not saying I'll ever take consolation in a season that simply exceeds expectations, especially when it comes to the Yankees. In fact, it could be argued that, since the Yankees can never truly exceed expectations—although this year might be the exception—that a little entertainment value is foregone just being a fan of theirs. But, that's a discussion for another day.

What I am saying is I'm not going to let myself get sucked into that 29-losers-and-only-one-winner mentality. I enjoyed my team's success for much of the season, despite being disappointed in its final outcome. In the end, though, it provided me with a great deal of entertainment, and—with all due respect—that's probably more than the fans of about 18 of Major League Baseball's 30 teams can say.

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