I attended my first Miami Heat game of the season last Wednesday. It was Game Five of a first round series that only should have gone four games. I was bitter about this because I made a bet that the Heat would sweep the series against the Philadelphia 76ers. I came 95 seconds from winning the bet when the Heat had one of their customary inexplicable collapses, but on a positive note there was an unexpected game I would be able to attend this year.
Our seats were way up in the rafters, three rows from the gate of St. Peter’s, but for some reason we still yelled at the court as though the players could hear us from a kilometer away. I guess it’s less silly than yelling at the television as I too often do.
The real goal if you want to be heard is to start a chant. I figured at some point the game would grow uncompetitive and I would start a “Boston sucks” chant (Boston being the team the Miami Heat would play in the next round). My proudest moment as a sports fan was on a Christmas Day game when the Los Angeles Lakers were in town and shooting guard and alleged rapist, Kobe Bryant, was on the free throw line. I started a chant that spread through the entire section of “out-of-court-settle-ment”. The gold standard of chants was in the 2006 NBA Finals when Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said part of his ritual at the free throw line was to hum a David Hasselhoff song and so the crowds serenaded him with “Da-vid Hassel-hoff”. I told myself I should come up with something more clever than Boston sucks.
The contest began and I was unable to find the energy for creativity. The 76ers were putting the hurt on the Heat. My brother, his friend and I were blaming the coach, then the referees, and finally the players. We figured out the players must have all been hungover, the referees were on the fix, and the coach only had the job because he had incriminating photographs of his employers.
Around this time I realized I must have a serious psychological problem. Here I am at a sporting event as a spectator at a dramatic game, but I could not enjoy a single moment of it. As a kid watching these contests and taking them so seriously I figured that if one of the two teams I rooted for, the Miami Heat of the Miami Dolphins, ever won a championship I could enjoy the games and not get knocked down by the outcomes. But in 2006 the Heat won the championship and not even five years later I am behaving like my team losing is a worse fate than an oil spill, nuclear explosion, or a chicken pox outbreak.
But in the end the home team won. We exchanged high fives, threw the white seat covers in the air and as we walked down the corridor with thousands of other pleased and psychologically unwell fans we started the chant. “Bos-ton… sucks. Bos-ton… sucks. Bos-ton…sucks.”