Wednesday, November 09, 2005



In religion, there are sub-divisions within the larger faith that denote the level of dedication and adherence to doctrine that followers are expected to display. Jewish people, for example, generally can be broken down into three major categories.

First, there are Reform Jews. These guys play fast and loose with religion. “Are we going to temple tomorrow morning?” they ask. “Well, we’ll see how the weather is.” At the other end of the spectrum are the Orthodox, no-nonsense Jews. When they enter a house of worship, men and women are made to separate and anyone who dares break the silent communal bond of prayer is removed, by force if necessary, from the premises. When it comes to God, the Orthodox mean business.

Somewhere in the middle, in a gray space only colored by the comings and goings of transitory souls, lie the Conservatives. Three days each year-- two for Rosh Hashonuh, one for Yom Kippur-- a Conservative will do and say all the things an Orthodox Jew might. The other 363 are less certain. If things are going good and maybe the Rabbi’s really been stroking his sermons lately, they’ll be in temple every weekend. When he’s been drinking too much scotch and slurs his tropes, they’ll stay home and read The Da Vinci Code.

Sports fans adhere to a similar code, and if the analogy hasn’t already begun to take shape in your head, I will herein seek to craft it out.

Like being Jewish, following or rooting for a team in any one of America’s four major professional sports (that includes hockey, you hater) is an act that instructs the most basic definition of “who you are.” Because lists are simple, in contrast to the skillful abstractions above, we’ll do this that way…

Reform fans are the scourge of all true believers. Reform and Conservative fans enjoy a relationship, from an ideological standpoint, along the lines of the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. It’s unkind.

You know this guy, you can smell him from miles away. When the team’s losing, he won’t watch the games. Or read the articles. But he will know what’s going on with his bets… Because he’s checking other scores when “his” team’s in the process of engineering a 4th quarter comeback.
Also, the Reform fan gets drunk during the game. Now, unless the game is being played in sub-zero temperatures (or it’s one of those rare, impact games, when it would be unhealthy to watch without some angle of sedation), there is no viable excuse for drinking heavily during your team’s contest. If the ebb and flow of the action isn’t entertainment enough, then you don’t really care. Stop pretending. Infidel.

Conservative fans...
This is most people. It should be all parents and people over 40 years old. Unless you’re over 40 and live with your parents. Then you’d belong in the next group...but this first.

Healthy is the way most would describe the Conservative fan. Roots for his team when they’re playing, goes to work when they aren’t. Win or lose, he reads the articles the day after the game, though not necessarily all the off-day, feature pieces. Friends like him and co-workers respect him.

It’s a swell scenario. You might think, “Hey, that’s me, that’s what I am, well-balanced, a sportsman in the truest sense. I only own jerseys for my teams.” And you might be right, for now. But no one stays Conservative forever. It is fleeting and anyone who says otherwise is probably a spy or deviant or both. In the course of a life, most fans will float between this and one of the two other distinctions, though rarely will one person run the gamut.

That’s because Orthodox fans are the sickest of the bunch. Mostly they’re comprised of 12-year-olds and the unemployed--a larger segment of society than one might imagine. Orthodox fans are physically affected by the games. So the team lost? Day’s ruined. That simple.
It can be a burden, but it’s the life they choose, a life of strict adherence. The Orthodox own only t-shirts, hats, and jerseys with the home club’s logo. No exceptions. Game’s on TV? Like the religious equivalent, women must be separated.

You know all the people discussed on this page. They live amongst us, visibly normal, decent citizens. I am one, though I won’t specify. What are you?


Blogger Fiona said...

NetVisionary 2005 - Post-mortem
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