During football season I typically wake up on Sunday morning, cook breakfast for my family, drink my coffee, and stare out the window while some thoughts come into my head about what I want to write about during the upcoming week. Then I go to church, come back, watch the Falcons and then re-watch the State game.
I did all those things this week. But as I was having my coffee I decided not to write the 2,000 word tirade I wanted to on Tuesday morning. I decided to not get so heated up that I would be thinking about Mississippi State football instead of hearing what the pastor had to say at the church service. I decided to steer clear of any message board reading. And it was nice.
It's kind of crazy that we get so wrapped up in sports. But what does it really do for us?
I was every bit as pumped up and excited and emotionally attached the the MSU baseball team this year as I have ever been with football. In fact, the last two years, since I started blogging heavily, I've been just as big of a baseball fan as football. Following every pitch of every game for two years - knowing everything I could about each player - dissecting every play and decision - and we made it to the national championship series. It really didn't do anything for me. I mean, how could it? I wasn't on the team. I didn't really win anything. When the run was over I still had the same mortgage, the same clothes, the same balding head. The success of the baseball team, or the basketball team, or the football team really makes no difference in my life. So why do I care so much?
When I was at State all roads led to basketball season. I remember going to the Kentucky game during the 2004 season. It was at the Hump and my friends and I arrived several hours early to get the best possible seats. We did get incredible seats that night, and the crowd was electric. It was a phenomenal game....but we lost. At the end of the season I reflected on what I thought was a blown opportunity - a disappointing 2nd round exit for a '2' seed. What I remember was the thrill of being at the Hump that night. And even though we lost on a buzzer beater, the two hours preceding that play had been the most fun I'd ever had at a sporting event. The fun I had with my friends, the hoarseness of my voice. Isn't that what it's about - those moments in time when sports give you a tremendous experience?
Isn't it about the time we beat Florida when no one expected us to? Or having bragging rights on your Ole Miss buddies for 3 years? What about the incredible week in Hoover for the 2012 Diamond Dawgs or in Tampa March 2009?
I would love to know what it's like to pull for a team that wins a national championship. Sure, I'm a Braves fan and I saw them win the World Series. Some of you are Cardinals fans. Some Saints fans. But college is different. It's your school. The thrill of being on top must be incredible. But in the end, if Mississippi State did find it's way to the top, it wouldn't change anything for me other than a few moments of exhilaration and pride. The same feeling I could get if we beat LSU, or South Carolina, or Ole Miss.
Sometimes we get so focused on the goal that we don't enjoy the ride. You want a house, so you don't enjoy your apartment. You want to get to the restaurant, so you don't enjoy the conversation on the way. You want a husband or wife, so you don't enjoy the romance. As John Lennon once said, "life is what happens while you're busy making other plans".
I guess one thing about the Croom years is that we didn't have to worry with expectation. Just winning a game, any game, was cause for celebration. We were so bad there wasn't any use in critiquing the game - just enjoy football season for the tailgates, the weather, and you never know what could happen inside that stadium. I don't want to go back to that era, but I do want to enjoy it again.
On Saturday night my wife and I watched the entire Auburn game together in our living room. She was really into it. Now she loves her Dawgs, but she only gets that animated for the exciting swing games that occur every now and then. That was a moment in time. That was quality time where I had fun with my wife. We just pulled for MSU and didn't worry about who missed a block or who made one - just watched the game. It was a heart-breaker. It entered my dreams that night. But I'm still doing the same thing right now that I was gonna do whether we won or lost, so the outcome of that game didn't really have any affect on my life. And it won't be a Grade A memory since we lost, but I could make it a Grade B rather than writing it off as an F.
I don't know about you but I don't want to be in a good or bad mood all fall just because of what the MSU football team does. I can be aware of the negatives and still think positive, right? I want to go back to when a sporting event made a good memory no matter if we won or lost. I don't want to be sick to my stomach for a week about a game - and I don't want to be so high I can't focus on anything else because we won. I just want to enjoy a game for a game. A moment for a moment. An experience for just that, an experience.