I am now 30 years old. I have been cheering for the Dodgers for probably 25 of those years. Some of my earliest memories were making my own Dodger posters out of construction paper and taping baseball cards onto my bedroom walls. Since then, not much has changed and I sometimes feel weird about that. Shouldn’t I care more about other things by now? I’m not exactly a kid, don’t I have better things to do than watch grown men chase a ball around a field?
I’m reading “Fever Pitch” by Nick Hornby, author of “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy” which is more or less 200 essays about how much he loves soccer (of course he calls it “football” because the English are silly) in general and Arsenal (the UK equivalent of the Red Sox) in particular. Looking back on his college years, he draws a similar parallel between his lack of emotional maturity and the role that sports plays.
“I used to believe that growing and growing up were analogous, that both are inevitable and uncontrollable processes. Now it seems to me that growing up is governed by the will, that one can chose to become an adult, but only at given moments. These moments come along fairly infrequently–during crisis in relationships, for example, or when one has been given the chance to start afresh somewhere–and one can ignore them or seize them. At Cambridge I could have reinvented myself if I had been smart enough; I could have shed the little boy whose Arsenal fixation had helped him through a tricky patch in his childhood and early teens, and become somebody else completely, a swaggeringly competent and ambitious young man sure of his route through the world. But I didn’t. For some reason, I hung onto my boyhood self for dear life, and I let him guide me through my undergraduate years; and thus football, not for the first or last time, and through no fault of its own, served both as a backbone and a retardant.”
So at least I’m not alone. And if you’re reading this then you probably get that. You know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.