The Games and The People Who Play Them Are All I Need

I don’t care about betting lines.  I don’t really care about breaking down individual games.  I love sports for the immersive experience and for the chance to see something I will never see again that amazes me.

There are people (Many are prominent writers that I like and respect) who say they can’t really watch a game unless they have some kind of rooting and/or betting interest.  They need the adrenaline fix from potentially losing something in each game.  I do not have that problem.  To me needing to bet on sports to make them more interesting is gilding the lily.  I will watch almost any sport at any time.

I do care about the individuals involved:  The players, coaches, referees, and fans.  I care about how this boiling soup of competing emotions and wills.  Sometimes for me having a rooting interest makes enjoying the experience almost impossible.

The 2009 college basketball season is a great example.  I do not know if I enjoyed the 2009 basketball season even though my alma mater UNC won the national championship.  The problem was all of us fans, commentators, players and coaches expected that team to win the national championship.  That made every game a referendum on that potentiality.  Every game, especially late in the season and most especially in the NCAA tournament took on a weight that made the games almost unbearable.

Even playing fantasy sports makes watching a slightly strange experience for me.  This is similar to the “observer effect” in science.  Simply stated, the act of observing phenomena actually changes the phenomena.  Having a rooting interest in a team changes the way I watch the game.  Sometimes it is for the worse, but sometimes it is for the better.

While watching a team that is expected to win play is almost unbearable at times, watching a team that doesn’t have that pressure is almost liberating.  You enjoy every small victory and you can watch the growth of the team throughout a season, which is part of why we watch sports.

One of my favorite UNC teams is the one just two season before the 2009 Championship, 2006-2007, that made it to the Elite Eight.  It was not a total surprise, but most felt that the team was one more year away from being close to that good.  That season was a fun ride with a fun and likable team right up to the loss to Georgetown.

A question I would have for gamblers who have favorite teams, do you ever bet against that team?  The follow up is, if you bet against your team to lose are you happier if the team wins or if you win you bet?  Even if I thought UNC was going to lose, I would never bet against UNC.  I would just not make the bet.  I also could not bet on UNC to win.  In either situation, once I place the bet, I will be disappointed regardless of the outcome.  Which raises the question, what was the point of betting?

I’m not against betting lines or gambling on games.  When I think about games I do use the betting lines to see how the people that know things see the game going.  Gambling and betting on games is fine for many people.  I’m just not wired emotionally to do it and do it effectively.  I have enough crazy crap rolling through my mind at any given time without adding gambling pressure.

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