Thursday, October 28, 2021

When I Pay Attention to Professional Sports


As a kid I was a big Dodgers fan, first in Brooklyn but mostly in Los Angeles after the team moved west. I may have picked up that affiliation from my mother—I have a memory of her favoring the team in some passing way—but I don’t really remember her being particularly interested in baseball except in 1960 when the Pittsburgh Pirates won the National League pennant and the World Series. (She grew up in nearby Johnstown, Pennsylvania.)  Whatever the impetus for my Dodger fandom, the team’s success and players in the late 50s and early 60s was more than enough to engage me. That was the era of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, Maury Wills.  Not many years passed during those years that the Dodgers were not in the World Series. As I grew older my interest waned and I stopped paying attention to baseball. The Dodgers’ fate each year was no longer a matter of great importance. 


As an adult I’ve never been much of a sports fan. Games and standings don’t make any real difference in my life so I pay little attention to them. I usually take note of the World Series due to that vestigial interest from my childhood and it’s impossible to ignore the Super Bowl but don’t have any great stake in the outcome. In recent years, though, I find myself paying more attention, mostly because I have good friends and a brother that do and I’m curious to see how their teams fare. Back when the local paper carried baseball standings (which apparently don’t fit in the slimmed down daily editions) I would glance at them to see how the the various favorites—Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs—were doing. And since I live near Seattle where people I know follow the Mariners and Seahawks I would follow their progress almost by osmosis. 


I bring all this up to note that I am rooting for Atlanta to win the Series this year. It’s simple enough. My brother is a fan so I hope his team wins. During the playoff with the Dodgers I was largely ambivalent. My vestigial loyalty to the Dodgers meant I pulled me in one direction but my brother’s loyalty to the Braves (which go back to their days in Milwaukee and reinforced by four decades living in Atlanta) meant that I would not be disappointed if they won the National League pennant which, of course they did. It’s also pretty easy to root against the Astros since they cheated their way to a Series win a few years ago.


In the end, it won’t make any difference in my life but my brother and probably many of his friends and neighbors will be happy.