I will admit, I have a problem.
It’s one that I’ve struggled with for many, many years, going all the way back to my youth actually.
I get a little too invested in the sports teams that I follow, and in some cases, WAY too invested.
My brother, sister, wife and kids can personally attest to my failings as a passionate sports fan. There are times when I absolutely lose it in front of the television, and those feelings came pouring out yet again in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series a couple of weeks ago.
I’ve been an Atlanta Braves fan since the late 1970s. I’ve been through the ups and down with the franchise for the past 40-plus years, though most of it has been extremely enjoyable, especially during the 14-straight division title run from the 1990s and mid-2000s. The only down side to that incredible record-breaking and historic run was claiming a mere one World Series (in 1995 against the Cleveland Indians).
Some of those World Series losses were extremely painful for me, and ones I still have a hard time getting over to this day. The classic 1991 series against the Minnesota Twins was one. Seven brutally gut-wrenching games that ended with one of the greatest Game 7’s in World Series history. My team, of course, was on the short end of that incredible 1-0 score in extra innings that night in Minneapolis.
A couple of weeks ago, against the Los Angeles Dodgers, I felt that same pain in another Game 7 that the Braves had multiple chances to put away, and just flat-out couldn’t get the job done. I went to bed that night hoping I wouldn’t sit up and stew about the loss and would actually be able to get some sleep.
I couldn’t do it.
So many plays went round and round my head to the point I was up most of the night. I often wish I could take the losses as well as I do the wins, but it’s been something I’ve struggled with for so many years now that I guess it’s just another one of my personality quirks.
Even covering sports for the paper over the years I’ve been a little too loud, rambunctious and have sometimes lost control.
As a sports photographer, you’re allowed on the sideline only if you can maintain a certain decorum. Photographers are not allowed to show emotion or root for any particular team or officials are allowed to remove them from the field of play.
Back in the early 2000s, covering Anamosa superstar Moza Fay at the state wrestling tournament in the old Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, I got a little too wrapped up into his match against Mediapolis’ Justin Swafford in a thrilling quarter-final contest of the top-2 ranked wrestlers in the state that year.
Without even knowing it, I started screaming as Fay was about to win an extremely tight match, and then all of a sudden, a huge hand grabbed the back of my shirt and lifted me off the mat. It was a security guard escorting me off the floor.
I apologized immediately, knowing my behavior was against policy. Thankfully, the security guard seemed to understand, but warned me another outburst would cost me my floor pass for the rest of the tournament. Fay went on to win the state championship that year, the first in Anamosa history. He would win another the following year, too in what would be the greatest Raider wrestling run ever.
That, would have been disastrous to have missed.
I won’t go into specifics, but I’ve had a few other occasions where I’ve gotten a little too wrapped up into what I was covering for the newspaper. For me it’s hard. I get to know some of the kids and coaches so well, it’s almost like watching family out there and I sorely want them succeed so much that I lose control of my emotions.
As I’ve gotten older, my outbursts have diminished (my wife probably wouldn’t agree) a bit, but if you see me on the sideline getting a little over-anxious, don’t get worried. Just smile. It’s who I am, and I guess will always be.