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Column: The sports fan
Paula Joseph.jpg
Paula Joseph

My sister often thinks it is a bit unusual and somewhat funny that I’ll know when a particular college football team has moved to their second-string quarterback or that after Saturday’s games there were numerous upsets or that a certain major league baseball team has won four World Series titles in three different home cities. I can see her rolling her eyes and shaking her head as I discuss with my brother-in-law a game that ended in a record nine overtimes. She’ll laugh and I’ll tell her it’s OK. I can take it. I love sports that much.

Watching college football is at the top followed by other collegiate sports like baseball and basketball. The National Football League has my attention, as does the NBA. I’ve been a die-hard Gamecock since the 1970s. I attended Carolina football games for 40 years with my father sitting in the same seats in Williams-Brice Stadium all that time with exciting memories of George Rogers’ march to win the Heisman Trophy in 1980, among others.

What energy my family felt as both the University of South Carolina men’s and women’s basketball teams punched their tickets to the Final Four in 2017, ultimately with the women taking home the championship. Gamecock fans can’t forget the baseball team winning back-to-back College World Series in 2010 and 2011. And this year stood out as well as I watched my nephew as a freshman on the team run out of the tunnel; another moment I will hold in my memory.

In the mid-’70s, I started following the Dallas Cowboys as quarterback Roger “Captain America” Staubach was at the height of his career. Likewise, “March Madness” takes a front row seat in my house as do the Olympic Games and proudly the Atlanta Braves.

Sports fandom has always given us a break from reality, the actuality of a tough day at the office or a stressful day at home as a parent. But maybe the love of sports is reality. Many of us watch sports for entertainment purposes as well as for the sense of community it brings us. Fans of a particular team can experience positive social interactions with others from different aspects of life. The passion we feel about our team is so exhilarating we are willing to accept defeat and never question our loyalty.

On a deeper view, fandom can satisfy our human need for belonging. We are literally taking on something when we know there’s a 50/50 chance we won’t like the outcome. And we keep coming back for more. The upset stings but heals quickly and gives way to the buzzer-beater. We watch sports for the moments, the plays, the records, the rivalries, the wins, the players, the walk-offs. The highs are high and the lows are low. These instances are not confined to the arenas but play out as well in our living rooms or backyard sheds.

There is no one answer as to why we watch sports but we know it is a common thread for many of us. What can divide us also unites us. We will threaten to quit watching while we can’t wait for next season. It is the sheer excitement and love of the game that keeps bringing us back. Go Cocks!

(Paula Joseph is a Camden resident and contributing columnist to the Chronicle-Independent, Camden, S.C.)