Last night, a certain sporting event didn’t go the way we had hoped, leaving us questioning why we invest so much of ourselves in supporting certain teams. Even under the best of circumstances, such fandom leads to nothing but heartache most years, as seasons inevitably end on sour notes. Is it time, perhaps, to give up our juvenile affection for our Big Three teams (the Colts, Clippers, and Angels) and move on to less depressing outlets for our excess mental energy?
That may sound like heresy to those among you who care deeply about spectator sports, but as of this morning, we’re leaning toward renouncing fandom forever. The Super Bowl defeat got us started down that intellectual road, but it was reading about the Nika riots of 532 A.D. that made us get serious about the radical move. In describing the riots’ origins, the Byzantine scholar Procopius really brought to life how sports fandom can destroy the souls of men:
In every city the population has been divided for a long time past into the Blue and the Green factions; but within comparatively recent times it has come about that, for the sake of these names and the seats which the rival factions occupy in watching the games, they spend their money and abandon their bodies to the most cruel tortures, and even do not think it unworthy to die a most shameful death. And they fight against their opponents knowing not for what end they imperil themselves, but knowing well that, even if they overcome their enemy the fight, the conclusion of the matter for them will be to be carried off straight away to the prison, and finally, after suffering extreme torture, to be destroyed. So there grows up in them against their fellow men a hostility which has no cause, and at no time does it cease or disappear, for it gives place neither to the ties of marriage nor of relationship nor of friendship, and the case is the same even though those who differ with respect to these colours be brothers or any other kin. . . . I, for my part, am unable to call this anything except a disease of the soul.
A similar (albeit less gory) sentiment is expressed in t-shirt form here.