When you reach a certain age and stage—especially with health issues—you start reflecting more on life and whether there are certain things you might have done better.
And I do wonder whether I have at times completely lost it or gone too far as a fan.
I mean, I have never remotely approached the type of conduct we have all heard about by soccer hooligans in Europe.
And I never came close to blurting out what a tremendously upset friend did in college after watching a penalty-marred loss to a rival: “I hope their plane crashes on the way home.” He almost immediately recognized what a horrible thing he had said, but still, the fact is that terrible instantaneous thought had popped up in his mind; and I can say with 100% certainty that nothing like that has ever happened to me, no matter how ticked off I was about a game.
But there was an incident that took place years ago—which got my wife very upset, and I didn’t apologize for it—and, the crazy thing is, I basically feel the same way today.
So I’ll let you all be the judge: am I taking being a fan one step too far? Do I need to see a shrink to learn to change my attitudes?
Here’s the background: it was the 1990s when, for those too young to remember, the New York Knicks actually had a perennial playoff team—one that was even in serious title contention for a number of years. Their star was center Patrick Ewing who was a dominant figure when big men really mattered and three-point shooting was not such a major strategic part of the game.
I shared season tickets behind the basket, when prices were actually reasonable (even factoring in inflation). Madison Square Garden was a rocking place back then.
The Knicks hadn’t won an NBA championship in two decades—which seemed like a lifetime back then, and I had no inkling of course that another two decades would pass without a title. So we were more than ready to finally celebrate the third championship in Knicks history.
And then one year—I forget which one—very late in a meaningless regular season game, Patrick Ewing went down in a heap with what looked like a very serious ankle injury.
I was watching this game on TV in the living room of my apartment and shrieked or yelled or made some horrific sound when this happened; my reaction was so bad that my wife came running into the living room thinking that something bad happened to me.
She was naturally relieved to see me standing there but, when I explained what had happened, she was annoyed because of the way I had alarmed her. And, as for Patrick Ewing’s injury, she said something like “Why should you care so much? It’s not like he’s family.”
Well, that set me off. “It’s not like’s he family?!” And then I blurted out: “I’d much rather have this happen to Eric than Patrick Ewing!”
OK, you’re wondering: who’s Eric? He’s my wife’s younger brother. And, no, it’s not as if I don’t like Eric. I actually am very fond of him.
But here’s the thing: Eric was—and is—a corporate lawyer. My logic was that if Eric suffered a bad ankle injury, he could still go to work on crutches. He could still earn a living. But the Knicks’ title hopes were basically down the drain if Patrick ended up with a bad ankle injury at that point of the season.
Needless to say, this didn’t go over very well with my wife, notwithstanding my explanation and my argument that Eric, as a big Knicks fan, would absolutely understand where I was coming from—and he did pretty much understand when I called him up to help get me out of some hot water.
My wife thought my reaction was basically a sign of a sickness.
So, you’re all passionate fans. Did I cross the line as a fan? Do I need to, on some level, dial back my support for the Knicks and the Buckeyes? Is there anything you’ve done that is similar to this kind of perhaps over-the-top reaction of mine that got you in hot water?