The Silence of Summer

celts2.jpgWith the NBA Finals over (Yeah Celtics!), the Stanley Cup won, March Madness completed and the race for the Triple Crown decided, we can finally relax because the demon (a.k.a. the Super Sports Freak) has subsided…at least for now. Summer is upon us and the only sport we need to worry about is baseball and no one really cares about the outcome of these games until Labor Day. Well, except my husband…and millions of other men around the world.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I married a sports fanatic.  When we were dating it didn’t really seem important. Then when we moved in together, I realized that if I wanted to spend any quality time with The Man, I better get interested in the game. Any game. I initially picked basketball because it seemed to have the least amount of rules and was over quickly. Of course, my skill at retaining useless knowledge soon had me winning the office pool for March Madness and using my husband’s vast love for the game to help me pick the right players for my Fantasy Basketball Team, which I also won. The men in the pool, i.e. everyone else, were not amused.

As much as I began to truly enjoy watching sports – something as unfathomable to me before I married as my walking on the moon – I soon discovered a dark side.  It was the 2003 baseball playoffs and a dream was coming true for my man. Both his beloved Cubs and my luckless Red Sox, a team he also fell in love with as a kid during yearly vacations in New England, were on a collision course to play each other in the World Series. We couldn’t believe our luck. One of them was finally going to take it all.

2003-12-19-inside-bartman.jpg Then it happened. Both teams lost their bid with destiny in a brutal fashion…and my husband turned from Doctor Dave into Mr. Tourettes. The stream of expletives that exploded from his mouth at these crushing defeats would make a Marine blush. The years of frustration created by his teams never winning could no longer be contained.  He’s generally such a congenial guy I had no idea he even knew those sorts of words.  He’s not exactly an angel but when your pets leave the room in fear, you know something disturbing is taking place.

His condition – until now – has been a well-kept secret. We are known amongst our friends to be super sports enthusiasts – we follow the Bears, the Patriots, the Celtics, the Bulls, the Red Sox, Dodgers and Cubs religiously, as well as the Brewers and Angels when they happen to be on. I’m addicted to tennis and we both love watching golf, especially when Tiger loses. You can’t convince either of us to care about Soccer. Why waste your time watching a game that can end in a tie? We need a winner.

So people are surprised when they invite us over to watch a big game and “we” decline.  Well only if one of our teams is playing. It’s just too much pressure for him to keep his tongue and be civil if things begin to go south. If we knew the outcome, well that would be different, but sports give us the only true “reality”entertainment and the stress is just too great. If he couldn’t explode at the television with abandon I think the outcome would be the first documented case of spontaneous combustion.

After years of watching this behavior, why he cares so much is still a mystery to me. Sure, I want my team to win, but I don’t let it ruin my evening/weekend/life if they don’t. I could understand his deep emotion if he was related to someone on the team, had money on the game or his life depended on the outcome. Otherwise, I’m just at a loss. Over the years I’ve learned it’s easier talking him down from the ledge when one of his hated rivals (Yankees, Lakers, Pistons, Cardinals, Cowboys, Colts, Giants) loses too, because at least then they are suffering as well.

nbafinals.jpg Surprisingly, we accepted an invitation to watch Game 6 of the Lakes/Celtics showdown at the home of a Los Angeles native. He was pleasant, quiet and gone by halftime. He says it was because no one was watching the game (which was true), but I know better. He wanted to be able to meltdown in peace. 

I, of course, did what any smart woman would in that situation: I stayed at our friend’s house and found myself another ride home. I know, the Celtics were winning and it looked like a lock, but even with all the championships New England fans have relished in since 2000, there’s a demoralized little boy somewhere deep inside, still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

soxwin.jpg So, despite all the recent joys, which plenty of fans have yet to savor, I still have to endure The Man bitching and moaning about blown calls and poor execution from the first pitch of the season to the last out, about blind referees and cheap fouls, bad coaching and lackadaisical/selfish players. No one escapes his wraith when winning is on the line. 

Despite his verbal gymnastics, he’s not much of a smack talker.  That’s child’s play and a waste of time. He saves his intensity and acrimony for the people who matter – those directly involved in the game, who I believe, he thinks, must, in some way, feel his burning energy.

While it’s not always pleasant living with a Sports Addict, I take solace in the fact that I know I’m not alone…especially when I have to move to another room. At least for the summer months the white-hot emotional heat of constant sports action is turned down to a relatively quiet simmer with only the everyday ups and downs of baseball to rock the boat.  Of course, if the Cubs do finally break their curse, I fear there will be no stopping the win-addicted monster within. 


Lisa Dinsmore is a writer and web programmer. She has her own wine blog called Daily Wine Dispatch. She lives with her husband Dave in Los Angeles.