I’m from Dallas. You could say I’ve got a rather hefty professional-sports chip on my shoulder: First we endured the epic fall-from-grace of the once mighty Cowboys (and now their half-hearted, mildly embarrassing attempt at resurrection). Then we suffered through the Mavericks chronic bought of choking-in-the-finals syndrome. And then there was a somewhat controversial incident in 2006…somewhere in Florida…involving a referee…I can’t seem to recall the details…
Suffice it to say, we’re about due.
I’m not one of those fans that follows the off-season stats of players, but come pre-season, my ears perk up and I start paying attention.
So as I sat watching Game 4, I nearly changed the channel. Were down by 14 (or so) in the 4th, and I wanted to go to bed- lazy I know- but my boyfriend reminded me that four minutes is an eternity in basketball, and that I shouldn’t be so hasty with the remote. Then, all those shots we couldn’t sink earlier were magically swishing through the net and we started closing in on OKC. People fouling left and right, and the Oklahoma coach looked as though he might have an aneurism right on the court.
As I was screaming at the TV, half-standing, half-sitting, blood-pressure rising each time Dirk made one of those impossible-looking fade away jump shots, I couldn’t help but feel bad for the Thunder. This always happens. I always feel bad for the loser.
I watched Kevin Durant, the 22 year-old wunderkind, as the game slipped through his fingers; you can always tell when they realize the game is lost. I’m not one of those people who loathes other players simply because they have the misfortune to play for Oklahoma (or New York, or Philadelphia, or Pittsburgh…), although I’d be willing to bet I’m in the minority when it comes to feeling sorry for the opposing team’s loss.
I’ve been known to feel sorry for teams I have absolutely no affiliation with whatsoever: My brother plays lacrosse, and watches a good bit of college lacrosse on TV. One afternoon he was watching what I took to be a pretty important game (Maryland vs. North Carolina, I think), so I sat down for a few minutes since I played in high school too. Maryland ended up losing. I felt awful. In the seven minutes I spent watching the game, I managed to become so invested in it that I felt bad for people I had never met, who went to a school in a state I’ve never been to. How lame am I?
(I don’t want you to think this means I’m not competitive: Do you know anyone else to gets competitive at yoga? Me either. It really takes away from the relaxation-aspect of class).
So here I am, basking in the after-glow of a Dallas win, feeling sorry for the losing team. Until I thought about it and realized we’ve been the losers many, many, times before, and the likelihood that anyone felt sorry for The Mavs is slim to none. There actually seems to be an entire sports sub-culture dedicated exclusively to hating the Mavericks. (I think Phil Jackson is the president).
After being the losers for so long, quietly absorbing every demeaning headline and quote (Mark Cuban is exempt from that statement), we’re finally making a name for ourselves.
And I don’t feel quite as bad about winning.