My Team is Me
Frequently, I am amazed at how easily people identify with a particular sports team. In my case, it’s the Minnesota Twins. I was in Junior High when the old Washington Senators came to Minneapolis-St. Paul to set up shop. It was so exciting! And, to my thirteen-year-old brain, exotic. Imagine a team from our nation’s capital coming all the way to the Upper Midwest to be our Minnesota Twins! Shortly after arriving to our great state, they were going to the 1965 World Series! Not only were they a good team, they were World Series good. I even got to see Sandy Koufax of the LA Dodgers pitch a 3-hit shutout on only two days’ rest. My grandfather took me. He rarely spoke to us grandkids but the two of us would often talk about baseball; which we did that day – all the way there and all the way back (note: for a total of about 27 words between us). Yep. That day settled it. The Minnesota Twins was my team. For the next several decades, we rode the emotional rollercoaster attendant to following major league teams. Some years, up; some years, down. Two more times since my Junior High years, we have been to the World Series – and won!
Those of you familiar with the rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox know something of the passions involved with supporting a particular team. It can, and does, get angry and even dangerous at times when yelling support for one side or the other in the stands. That’s too intense for me. It does illustrate, however, how people can so identify with a team that they can feel personally insulted by an opposing team’s player or an umpire’s bad call. Asking them to “dial it back” might end up with a beer can being bounced off your head. There’s a line somewhere around here that deserves a cautionary note.
You may have heard about “locus of control.” It’s a psychological phenomenon whereby a person gets his or her cues from outside one’s own being. They will wait to see what a particular person does or says in response to some stimulus before taking action or speaking. They always defer to the other. And their sense of well-being is almost solely dependent upon the other person’s current state. “Co-dependency” is often used to describe the phenomenon. “I’m okay, if you’re okay.” goes the thinking. Rather than two interdependent individuals working as co-equal partners in a relationship, each taking responsibility for the health and well-being of that relationship, one person defers to the other in almost every decision, position, life-situation. Sometimes, it’s the woman who lets the man make all the decisions – and then can complain if things don’t work out perfectly. Or it could be a man who takes no responsibility for child-rearing and blames the mom for raising such a troubled kid.
How does this figure into rooting for a baseball team? If we aren’t careful, we can unconsciously surrender our sense of well-being and even some of our independent identity by identifying too closely with a particular team. If that team is doing well in the standings, we may experience a partial euphoria, like life is good (and that’s a value of a winning team). However, if the team is doing poorly in the standings, and we have “put so much of ourselves into them,” we can feel betrayed. We can feel let down and become angry or sullen. This will adversely affect our other relationships. It’s good to root for your favorite team. It can be a welcome diversion from everyday stressors. Just remember to keep focused on YOU. Remember: that you got this! Atta boy! Atta girl!