There is a growing trend in the sports viewing public that has risen to an unacceptable level. It is destroying an integral aspect of being a fan and has growing support from the media. It is swallowing the events about which it is referring, and it is becoming the story rather than enhancing it.
A no-hitter was just completed. No matter how often this is witnessed, it is always exciting. It’s thrilling to watch. It’s nerve-wracking to follow. It’s a great moment that creates memories.
The game ended with a groundout to second base, and the pitcher had etched his name in the history books (in this specific example, for the second time). The MLB At-Bat application, in a complete stroke of catering to its diehard audience, sent multiple push notifications indicating that this event was occurring. As an added bonus, a “Live Look-in” was also offered. For free.
This is what makes sports so beautiful. It’s not just the championships or highlight reel plays. It’s the moments. The moments that come at any time without reason or foreshadowing. One minute, a pitcher appears to have lost one of the potentially great careers of his generation, the next, he is three outs away from throwing his second no-hitter in less than one calendar year. MLB recognized this and offered a piece of history to its fans.
One of MLB’s future diehards, my almost two-year old daughter, sat in her highchair awaiting dinner. In a move of admittedly bad parenting, I put the ninth inning of the game on my phone and slid over towards her. I explained to her, in very careful phrasing, that “this was a rare moment” and, most importantly, “something big was happening”.
Within seconds of the completion of the game, I went on Twitter to share my excitement for witnessing this pitcher’s accolade. Immediately, the wind was drawn from my sails and the excitement of the moment vanished.
“See? We didn’t jinx the no-hitter!”
“The announcers mentioned the no-hitter and it wasn’t jinxed!”
“JINX! JINX! JINX!”
Maybe the last one was a little exaggerated, but the tone and theme of the social media was evident. Except, it wasn’t necessarily the social media.
I am not a big proponent of bashing the sports media. In fact, I was part of it for a brief time. I admire those who do the work I do not and I see the power of their words. But that is why their reaction is so disheartening.
Probably because of the voice that social media gives to its fans, the collective masses speak loudest when in unison. Over the past year, it has been extremely obvious that the fans have spoken out against announcers mentioning a “no-hitter” or “perfect game” in the midst of one. But the issue does not lie with the fans taking exception to this. Instead, it falls squarely on those who attempt to counter it.
Announcers and analysts now openly complain about how upset the fans get regarding their mention of a no-hitter. They vehemently argue that, not only is there no such thing as a jinx, but that they are not responsible for it. This outright dismissal of something that so harmless and innate to being a fan is infuriating and disheartening. Who is anybody to tell me how to be a fan?
It’s fun. Sports can be deduced to merely those two words. It’s fun. Fun to play. Fun to watch. Fun to analyze. It brings out the kid inside all of us. It brings out the kid that believes that we, the unlucky millions who did not strike the genetic lottery, actually have some impact on what we are watching.
I am awed by some of the athleticism I witness. This is because I cannot replicate it myself. But awe will only take me so far. What keeps me invested is the storylines, the unforeseen events, and, most importantly, the interaction.
I move my seat if my team is losing. I keep my hand still if they are winning. I do not mention the words “no-hitter” when relaying the message to my daughter. I do these things because it enhances my experience. And that’s why we watch sports. The fact that my beliefs have now become the story is another sad indication that the way watch sports is ever-changing.
Why does it have to be this way? Fans complain, all the time, about something. Why is the jinx what sets off the sports media? Maybe it is no more than insecurity. Maybe those people who are so quick to point out a “fake jinx” are secretly relieved that they have the ammo. If so, my belief in jinxes has obviously affected something.
For all the aspects of sports upon which I have an opinion, I rarely find something as simple as a jinx so divisive. It is harmless, in every way (at least, no less harmless than most of what drives fans to call into a radio show). It is no more than a series of beliefs that I hold. You don’t have to agree. I didn’t ask you to suddenly take my side. I only ask that you don’t try to convert me, as well.
I am not a professional athlete, coach, or owner. I can’t influence the game I love in any quantifiable way.
I am but a mere fan and I can think that I am part of a greater whole. Why can’t that count for something?