| The most common fanatic in America is likely living in your neighborhood. They often have signs in their yards, stickers on their cars, and sometimes tattoos on their bodies that tell their story. They are commonly known as sports fans. You may have had some other person in your neighborhood in mind, but I would dare to say that there are more sports fanatics in your community than any of the others.
Have you considered how irrational it is to be a sports fan? As a reformed sports fan, I recently was reminded of how weird it is to align your heart and wallet with a group of strangers that make a very good living playing a game for a part of the year. I started down the path of reform many years ago when I realized that if my favorite baseball team lost a game, I had a bad day. Just because twenty-five guys I didn’t know were unable to win a game against a different group of guys just like them. The fact that they played 162 games a year meant my summer could be rough even when they were winning the majority of their games. Don’t even get me started on the fact that these mercenaries would play for the enemy if enough money was thrown their way. (The fact that the last sentence brought up a 41-year-old memory says it all.)
Have you ever been to a restaurant that plays sports on TVs when a local team was playing an “important” game? How attentive were the people to the other humans they came with? Did you experience the roar when the hometown scored? This fan thing is big.
We seem to be designed to root for things. Every one of us does it in one way or another. Some of us try to make it seem more palatable by saying we “pull” for a team or a politician a band, or particularly an underdog. We have our reasons, some “rational” and nearly all emotional. This is so deep that history records this tendency from the beginning of historical records. The empires of the past built enormous buildings for the staging of games. We still build the largest gathering places in most communities for the playing of games. And in most places, the largest portion of those stadiums is for the fans.
I don’t think it’s bad for us to want to support someone involved in a challenging endeavor. I think it may come from the God-given, built-in, need to love. We love seeing someone succeed particularly if we feel like we have a relationship with them. (Hence the “fan” phenomena.) The biggest fans among us know the names and statistics of at least the star players in the arena. Celebrated people in almost any field can gather fans. I’m a fan of thinkers. I’m a fan of certain podcasts, performers, even a few actors. We call them celebrities because we celebrate them.
It’s a really broken life that is entirely lived in the celebration of people we don’t know. It produces deep loneliness if it is ever really considered.
The best fan experience is still the one shared with another human. Going to baseball games with my son is still a highlight. Loving something is fun but loving someone is deeply human. God called us to love our family, and our neighbor, because as is always true of God, His callings are multi-dimensional blessings.
In closing, I want to remind you that God is your greatest fan. Your successes are recorded by Him. Your failures are heartbreaking to Him. He knows all your stats. He comes to all your games. And He always cheers for you. And like baseball, He is rooting for you to get home.