Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

I know sports fans can be nutty.  I definitely enjoy sports and know my share of the crazies.  I’ve chuckled many times at friends for turning off the TV during a game because their team started doing poorly when they started watching. I’ve done the same thing or something similar countless times, but just never in front of people.  I know it’s silly, and because of that, I’ve always felt that my silliness was somewhat reasonable.  I wasn’t one of those fans on TV, half naked with paint all over their bodies, or one of those fans who wouldn’t shower because they believed it was helping a winning streak.  I loved my teams, but I didn’t try to antagonize people who didn’t feel the same way.  I bought jerseys and I attended games, so I thought I was fairly normal.  It turns out that I was wrong.

I went to a Wild vs Ducks hockey game a few months ago with a friend, my girlfriend and her brother.  I wore my new Wild jersey (the green one) that I got last year and brought my old Wild jersey (the red one) just in case someone wanted to wear it.  For previous games, that someone was my dad.  Since none of the people I was with were Ducks fans, I was hoping someone would help me represent the visiting team, but those requests fell on deaf ears, so I just held on to it.  After a period or two of futility from my favorite team, I decided to swap the jerseys.  I had gone 0-3 in my new jersey and was about to go 0-4, so I figured it might be bad luck and that switching to the old one would perhaps bring my team good luck.

When I took off the first jersey, a guy behind him asked me “are you really giving up on your team?” and when I told him that I was just switching jerseys, he totally understood my logic without needing me to explain it to him.  No one else around really seemed to notice the switch or they all inherently knew what I was doing.  The game was finally ended, and my jersey switch couldn’t turn the tide.  To me, this game was just one of many hockey games, and unfortunately it ended in a loss.

A few months later,  I ran into an acquaintance and after exchanging pleasantries, he asked me if changing jerseys at a hockey game was a normal occurrence for me.  I was immediately taken aback by his question, partly because of embarrassment, but also out of shock.  My acquaintance didn’t know anyone who I went to the game and I didn’t even recall ever having a conversation with him about sports.  It turned out that he was also at the game, and while he and his co-workers were trying to spot their Minnesota Wild loving friend elsewhere in the stands, they spotted me, and later spotted me in a different jersey.  I explained my superstitious logic behind the swap and he at least feigned understanding about it.  I was somewhat embarrassed about it, but not embarrassed enough to not try it again at some point.

For the first time that I know of, I looked like a crazy sports fan, and in the eyes of my acquaintance and his co-workers that night, I looked like a loon who couldn’t decide which jersey he wanted to wear.  Unfortunately to me, that doesn’t sound all that exciting.  If I was going to be deemed sports crazy, I’d like to be like the group of Minnesota Wild fans that brought a Minnesota state flag to a game to a hang over the railing, or my friend who I didn’t realize I was seated next to at a Clippers game because they were wearing a cape and was screaming that every player on the opposing team was a rapist, not just the guy who kept switching between jerseys at a hockey game.

My brand of crazy just isn’t crazy enough.  It’s a nerdy crazy and it just doesn’t feel as bold and brave as I’d like it to.  I can’t spin yarns about how I painted my face and torso, knowing it was going to be below freezing weather.  I can’t tell tales about how I screamed obnoxiously at opposing players without a single drop of alcohol in my system.  While I often look down on these people, or in the case of my friend, not recognize them until they’ve turned to me and asked me if I remembered her, I secretly envy them and their ability to totally immerse themselves in their fandom for their team.  For now, the Minnesota Wild will have to accept me and my two jerseys.  Hopefully the next time they’re in town, I’ll have embraced a whole new level of crazy, a crazy that will help them over that final hump and to victory.

 

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