Fair Weather Fans

The people and parties, as well as the players and teams we cheer for, disappoint us time and again. That’s the nature of being supporters and fans of human beings who engage in human contests — whether contests of ideas or sport.

The Republican Party is going through an agonizing season right now, searching its soul in light of Donald Trump’s nomination and all the chaos that has attended to it. Many Democrats also lack enthusiasm for their candidate. Whether they are unhappy with Hillary Clinton or with the way she has been caricatured by others, there isn’t much liftoff in her constituency. One will win, the other lose. Some hopes will rise and others fall.

The Texas Rangers had an outstanding season, winning 95 games — the most in the American League — and setting records for come-from-behind and one-run margin victories. It was thrilling, until it wasn’t. The Toronto Blue Jays swept the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. Our baseball team has given us great effort and entertainment, but in every sport only one eventually wins and all others lose.

Brad Sham is the longtime radio voice of the Dallas Cowboys and sports broadcaster extraordinaire. Brad grew up a Cubs fan, and he has called play-by-play for the Rangers, his adopted team. He recently posted on Facebook a reminder that should add sensible perspective. This is for not only my fellow Rangers and Cubs fans, but all sports fans. But these teams’ fan’s especially. These teams do not owe us results. For our money and emotional investment, they owe us their best effort. These two teams have already over delivered this year. We should thank them and congratulate them. Be very happy if they win. Be as sad as we wish if they lose. But they’re doing their best against other professionals, as they have since February. Let there be no sniping or acrimony from us. We have struck out no one, we have delivered no hits nor run down one screaming liner in the gap. We have sat and cheered. Thank you Rangers. Thank you Cubs. You are examples and inspirations whatever happens next.

The word fan is short for fanatic, which the dictionary describes as “a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.” Or sports. I would quibble with the word uncritical; hypercriticism is often the problem. But the larger problem is the degree of devotion and emotion we invest in our parties and teams. We make what is supposed to be functional or fun fundamental.

Politics is important because it has real effect on everyday lives. It shouldn’t be elevated to religious ultimacy or trivialized to banal entertainment. Sport is meant to entertain us. But when our lives rise and fall with our teams’ results, we should check our values to see if they have drifted too far.

Spiritual wisdom warns against putting anything at the center of our lives that is transitory. Only God is eternal.

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