Sports And The City

It was 4-1.

The habit of believing

with 10 comments

I’m reading Gary Taubes’ “Why We Get Fat.” Carbohydrates, my friends, are the devil. Have you seen Travis Snider?  The Meats Don’t Clash diet works.

Anyway, I came across a quote in the book by Umberto Eco, Italian all-around smarty-pants, which Taubes uses to help expose the flaws in the widely accepted calories-in/calories-out paradigm. It’s fantastic. Fucking fantastic. Witness:

I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habit of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing.”

I had to put the book down. Actually, I read the quote again, twice, and then put the book down.

That’s me. That’s my fandom. Of the Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Bills, Toronto FC, and Toronto Raptors. Of every awful team I support. There’s nothing really rational about supporting those teams. Then again, there’s nothing really rational about sports; rationale doesn’t factor into rooting for a specific team, or player.

I’m sure Kansas City Royals fans, and Pittsburgh Pirates fans, and even Calgary Flames fans, can relate to that quote. Why, year after year, do we go on? Why do we stick around, after all the abuse? The answer’s in the quote: we believe. It’s no longer a habit of pretending to believe, as Eco says. We actually believe. That this year, whichever year it is, is actually the year. Even though it’s probably not.

The Maple Leafs last took part in a playoff game thousands of days ago, in 2004. Literally thousands of days ago. Two-thousand-something days. I don’t remember the actual number, but the CBC was kind enough to point it out last Saturday, during the final Leafs/Habs tilt until October. I don’t even want to begin to think about how many more thousands of days it’s been for the Blue Jays. Almost two decades. Yet every April, I find myself thinking, “Wow, I haven’t been this excited about the Blue Jays since, well, last year.” I say the same thing about the Maple Leafs in October.

In years prior, I’ve still been bout it bout it for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Nothing better than the first round, and playoff overtime, I’ve always said myself. Wednesday night, as the playoffs began, and Vancouver welcomed Chicago, and the Rangers and Capitals treated folks to overtime, I watched baseball. Dodgers and Giants, from San Francisco, with Vin Scully in the booth.

I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I know something’s changed. I chose baseball. It’s definitely got something to do with listening to Scully, something I haven’t done enough of in my life. He’s absolutely brilliant in the booth, a one-man team. But another part of me simply isn’t interested in the playoffs if the Leafs aren’t involved. I don’t care anymore. I’ll be watching tonight, Montreal and Boston, but that’s only because I’ve got to live-blog the game for The Score. Pay me to watch it, and I’ll do it. Gladly, of course. But between hockey I’m not emotionally invested in, even though it’s intense and awesome hockey for the most beautiful trophy in professional sports, and Scully’s baseball poetry, I chose the legendary Dodgers broadcaster. And I’d do it again.

Back to the quote: the believing is exhausting. But I guess, in the end, the believing is also what makes it worthwhile.

Image courtesy The Best Part.

Written by Navin Vaswani

April 14th, 2011 at 1:25 pm

10 Responses to 'The habit of believing'

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  1. Smiling at you, Navin. You’re quite the cat, you know?

    William

    14 Apr 11 at 1:27 pm

  2. At the end of the day, we’re all quite the cats, mate.

    Navin Vaswani

    14 Apr 11 at 6:12 pm

  3. I heard Eco’s writing a new book, “Eyebleaf’s Pendulum”, about the deeper meaning of the conspiracy of May 1993.

    Mike D

    14 Apr 11 at 6:43 pm

  4. Your column reminds me of the story of Pandora’s Box, when the ills of the world were unleashed upon mankind and all that was left, was ‘blind elpis’–typically translated as ‘Hope’. Except, I remember my prof saying that that was a bit of a misnomer. That ‘blind elpis’ is actually more similar to what you’re saying, i.e., ‘belief’–even if it may be misguided. As sports fans, we all have a healthy dose of ‘blind elpis’ a.k.a., (optimistically), Hope…even when we shouldn’t.

    Escaped Lab Rat

    14 Apr 11 at 10:15 pm

  5. @ Mike: He asked me to write the forward. Can you believe that?

    @ Escaped: I think I knew it, that we all had a bit of that blind hope, but, damn, that quote hammered it home.

    Navin Vaswani

    15 Apr 11 at 12:47 am

  6. >It’s definitely got something to do with listening to Scully, something I haven’t done enough of in my life.

    This implies the falsehood that there is such a thing as “enough” Vin Scully.

    Ryan

    15 Apr 11 at 8:16 am

  7. In the last 24 hours I’ve had 6 servings of carbohydrates including a big bowl of past for dinner PLUS 3 beers. I’m *not* fat. Other than the factual errors about carbohydrates, great post.

    Meredith

    15 Apr 11 at 9:27 am

  8. Right you are, Ryan. I listened to Scully again last night. When the Cardinals scored two runs early in the game, he said, “Two birds fly home.” The guy’s a living fucking legend.

    Meredith, you’re genetically predisposed to not become fat. I’m jealous of your genes. Also: You’re a factual error. Death to carbs!

    Navin Vaswani

    15 Apr 11 at 10:52 am

  9. But carbs are so goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood….

    theactivestick

    15 Apr 11 at 1:01 pm

  10. Exactly. Nothing that tastes that good can be good for you.

    Navin Vaswani

    16 Apr 11 at 12:28 pm

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