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It’s liberating to not be at the mercy of a professional sports team. Be a fan, absolutely, but know that the low of something like not catching a steelhead, or missing a deer, is better than the high of a team winning a championship.
Stop outsourcing entertainment 011718 AE 1 For the Capital City Weekly It’s liberating to not be at the mercy of a professional sports team. Be a fan, absolutely, but know that the low of something like not catching a steelhead, or missing a deer, is better than the high of a team winning a championship.

Since moving back to Alaska from California, the author's ability to be a good fan has been replaced by the desire to be outside rather than in front of a TV. Photo courtesy of Jeff Lund.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Story last updated at 1/16/2018 - 7:30 pm

Stop outsourcing entertainment

The college buddies text thread came alive when the University of Arizona basketball team trailed Oregon State at home. It has been a rough few months for UA fans.

The football team was horrible, then unstoppable, then horrible again. Then the basketball team lost three in a row, then the football team lost its bowl game and fired the coach.

I tried to care a lot, I really did, but found myself a shell of the rabid fan I once was. It’s exhausting to be a fan. After I moved to Alaska, I stopped outsourcing so much of my energy and excitement to something I had no control over — because you know what doesn’t let me down? The woods. Yeah, the weather is often terrible — we want the ocean to lay down a bit so catching kings is more enjoyable, the fog needs to break so we might have a chance to make a play on an alpine buck, black ice is never any fun — but that doesn’t mean that we’ve lost. That doesn’t mean it’s over. Outside just changes, it doesn’t end.

The Broncos are not in the playoffs. Fact. The Rockies are rarely in the playoffs and since they went this past summer, with their luck it will probably be half a decade before they are relevant into June. The professional sport off season is pretty bland. Free agency is not exciting, no matter what heads on ESPN or Fox Sports say. Plus, teams don’t care about me. They care that people like me exist to create a market that makes them rich, but I am just a shirt-wearing dude. Unless I meet the athletes and there is a real experience, the teams’ members, whom I don’t know personally, don’t care about me. So why should they have all the power over my happiness? My favorite players don’t consult me when thinking about moving cities, nor should they. It’s an entertainment business.

This is blasphemous coming from a die-hard Arizona fan. But it’s true. Maybe I’m not die hard anymore. I’ll watch March Madness, get irrationally passionate about missed jumpers, poor offensive execution and lazy defense and maybe even yell at the TV because it’s clear that I know better and all the University of Arizona basketball team needs is a 36-year old JV girls basketball coach from Alaska whose glory days contained no glory outside that one time I dunked in Yakutat. (Full disclosure: it wasn’t even during a game.) The real glory days are now, on the river, with my fly rod — or in the woods with my rifle.

I tell my students it’s inappropriate to have two teams in any sport. You have to pick one and stick with it. You can’t like Duke and… well, any other school. You can’t like the Yankees and the Mariners. You have to choose. You can like the pre-circus Lakers and respect the Cavs, but you can’t have a team you like, and a team you think might win. Most importantly, the rule that supersedes all of my rules of fandom, is that the sport of which you are a fan can’t be everything. Why be a slave to something you can’t control just so you can buy a championship t-shirt and use “we” when your piece in the “we” was to sit on a couch eating Fritos and queso dip?

It’s liberating to not be at the mercy of a professional sports team. Be a fan, absolutely, but know that the low of something like not catching a steelhead, or missing a deer, is better than the high of a team winning a championship.

Well it is for me, probably because the Broncos aren’t in the playoffs. You should ask me about this when the NCAA basketball tournament starts and I’m in my Zona game day shirt that I wasn’t wearing last year when Arizona lost in the second round.

Jeff Lund teaches and writes out of Ketchikan.