So I’m watching the Celtics get completely devastated by the Lakers. In the past, I would’ve been cursing, screaming, banging my fists into sofas and tables. But not tonight. Tonight I remain calm in the face of failure. This is a new situation for me, the ability to stay in emotional control during a sporting event. And I wonder why.
It’s been almost a year since I wrote about the difficulty in watching and reporting about the teams you care about when they’re stumbling. I questioned whether it was possible to remain objective and a fan. After a year of covering Boston sports, I think I’ve come up with a decent process by which I can put my fan disappointment aside in the face of journalistic objectivity: write, write and write.
I know what it’s like to follow a struggling team. You feel every loss deeply. You lose sleep. You struggle to come up with explanations. And you hold onto this very hardened hope that your team can somehow turn things around. I used to feel like this all the time. But in the last year, frequently writing about my teams, both the games they play and the general state they’re in, has helped me learn how to deal with team losses in a more healthy manner. The process of writing and analyzing shifts the game in my brain. It goes from the right side, the emotional side, to the left side, the analytical side. This transfer helps keep everything in perspective. Gone are the sleepless nights. The writing process helps me come to understand WHY my team performed the way it did, and that makes it easier. I find I don’t get too high when they win, nor do I feel too low when they lose.
This does not mean I don’t care about my teams any more. I still deeply love those players who toss on a uniform and represent the city of Boston. And you can’t watch sports and be devoid of passion altogether. To do so is to miss the point of athletic fandom. But I come from a city full of people who carry every sports win and loss with them like it’s the most important thing in the world. And I’m positive it’s contributed to the hardness you find in the city of Boston. So maybe everyone needs to calm down a little bit.
In terms of tonight’s game, what went wrong far overshadows anything that might have gone well. The Celtics sucked it up tonight. They couldn’t defend. They couldn’t shoot. Perkins sprained his knee. And the team played with none of the flow, rhythm or urgency we’ve seen this postseason. The Lakers decimated Boston 89-67, and Boston deserved it.
People will go to bed angry tonight. My advice to them is to stop and think. Think about what exactly happened. But don’t get angry. Don’t get emotional. Remain calm. Remember that the Celtics have come back from bad losses this postseason and won the next game. Remember that in basketball everything evens out, so a good night of shooting from the Lakers role-players will probably be balanced out by a bad night on Thursday. And remember that it’s just sports, and that it has no real bearing on our lives beyond moments of joy and pain.
And when all else fails, fire up Microsoft Word and start writing.