Friday, February 1, 2002

Nervous Sports Fever

Only a few more days until the Super Bowl. I'm nervous.

Since I moved to Boston in 1991, I have only celebrated a few national championships won by home teams (mostly in college ice hockey, Boston University being a perennial favorite). The Red Sox are a source of constant frustration. The Celtics are continually rebuilding (although I'm enjoying Paul Pierce/Antoine Walker/Kenny Anderson). The Bruins keep getting eliminated by stronger rivals in the playoffs. This leaves the Patriots. I already mentioned their last losing appearance in the Super Bowl (1996).

Who were my teams before Boston? In truth, I rooted for "no teams". As a kid growing up in Jersey City, New Jersey, I had plenty of opportunity to become a fan of the Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants, Nets, Knicks, Rangers, Devils or Islanders. But I was quite ignorant of pro sports growing up. I played sports with the kids around the block, but I didn't know players, or teams, or standings. At college, I started becoming more attuned to following sports. Maybe because I had more time. Maybe because my college friends came from such different places, I could see their passion when, say, the Minnesota Twins won the World Series. Maybe because I slowly lost the interest and/or the physical ability to play sports that I started to enjoy watching them.

After graduating, and moving to Boston, I decided that I would be a Boston sports fan. I learned teams. I learned players and coaches names. I learned standings. I learned some history. I have attended Celtics, Bruins, and Red Sox games (alas, no Patriots games). As the years have gone by, I slowly realized how tough the road is that I've chosen. I actually pegged the Bruins to be the team most likely to win a championship in my lifetime. My old childhood friends, fans of the Jets, the Yankees, the Mets have heaped the usual derision on me.

But here are the New England Patriots, giving me new life, new hope, new excitement, in the biggest of all sports championships. And I'm nervous.

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