Living and Dying With…

By Noah Graff

Why did I devote the previous two weeks to watching the Chicago Cubs during the playoffs?

Sure—athletic feats are impressive and entertaining to watch. But why do I ecstatically jump up and down when my home team gets a big hit or strikes out an opposing batter?

Why do I hurt when we strike out, when we make an error, when we lose? And why do I use the first person plural when referring to the Chicago Cubs?

I don’t know any of the players personally, though our electrician Julio is friendly with fellow Dominican reliever Pedro Strop. Virtually none of the Cubs players grew up in Chicago. But I am a member of the Cubs religion. I was raised in a Cubs household. So what affects the Cubs players affects me as well as my family. During Cubs playoff games we have an active group text between my dad, my sister Sarah and brother-in-law Scott living in California. If you look up and down our text thread you will see plenty of color commentary filled with passionate “Yeses!,” superstitious animal emojis (usually sent by me) and questioning if “things are going to be ok.”

Why do I have such emotional investment in the games? Why do my dopamine levels rise when the action on the field takes place? When the Cubs win, why does everything just seem right with the world? When they lose why do I feel empty?

Cubs fan watching a game at Sluggers in Chicago.

My conclusion is that a sporting event is live theatre. The Cubs were the protagonists and the Dodgers were the antagonists. But the protagonists were not just the Cubs players, they were the Cubs fans as well.

Theatre starts with an exposition. “The 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs were playing the Dodgers in game four of the NLCS playoff series trying to reach the 2017 World Series. (Indulge me as I try to hold onto the one highlight of the series). Cubs hurler Jake Arrieta was pitching against the Dodgers’ Alex Wood. It was a ‘win or go home’ elimination contest for the Cubs.”

The plot built until the climax when the Cubs’ Wade Davis stopped the final charge with a 6-out save! We won, and all was well. Sports competitions are dramas (often a tragedies). But unlike in a traditional drama on a stage, the athletes are the characters and they are REAL —not actors! The resolution (probably) does not cause someone to die, but the story is live and real.

The 2017 World Series between the Dodgers and Astros will be another great drama. But I am not a protagonist in this series like I was when my Cubs were playing. Some other lucky protagonists will live and die, on and off the field.

Question: Do you prefer watching sports on TV or live at the stadium?

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9 thoughts on “Living and Dying With…

  1. Mike

    I like the excitement of watching a game live but also enjoy watching a game on TV from my own comfortable seat and can pause the game when nature calls. Also I like no lines for the restroom.

  2. Mindy Mikami

    I agree with Mike. I’m a Carolina Panthers fan and have season tickets, so I go to as many games as possible (even managed an away game at Gillette Stadium this year). I love the excitement of being at the game, but football rules are complicated, and watching at home you get all the commentary and explanations about the rules and why certain calls were made. You also get updates on injured players, etc., which they don’t share live at the games. Also, if your team loses, you don’t have to endure the taunting from the fans of the other team (unless they live with you).

    Oh, and that bathroom thing… Mike is spot on there!

  3. Seth Emerson

    TV and live (as in being there) sports are two completely different activities. I was just sorry the Yankees didn’t make it into the World Series. Then, with the Yankees and Dodgers playing, I truly wouldn’t have given a cr*p about the whole thing. Now, with the Astros playing, I have to root for them against the Dodgers. (I’m a Giants fan)

  4. Grimstod

    Live is much better. Lately though it seams they are politicizing it to much. So I have not been watching at all.

  5. Art Santana

    TV will never match the excitement of being there.. But in today fast paced world, I can watch a football game in half the time, can speed up a slow baseball game or a blow out in the NBA.. And with DVR’s I can skip those annoying commercials. Nothing I can do with hockey though, still can’t see the puck. LOL.
    I have blue blood in my veins, BYU blue and Dodger blue. At least one is having a great season this year. Last night was hard to swallow but fun to watch. Sorry the Cubs are not there anymore and would have been fun to see the Yankees again but will take those pesky Astros too.
    Last night there was a shot from the right side foul stands and remember sitting there 30 years ago seeing Ron Cey come back as a Cub and was sadly remained that you can’t see a thing from there.! But the excitement of being there, just can substitute it with TV.
    Thanks Noah and hope Lloyd is over his C

  6. Frank in Cleveland

    A live baseball game is a terrific experience, the food, Cold Beer, and fan interaction make it a terrific experience.
    Football, hmmm, we have had Season tickets to Brown’s for 40 years. We have stopped going and are considering giving up our tickets.

  7. Randy

    I grew up on Cincinnati Reds baseball on the radio while living in Indy. I like the ability to do other things while listening to baseball in the summer time. I do have to admit that the new baseball parks are very nice and great place to watch MLB. I do enjoy going to a daytime game or two. The evenings in the summer are also enjoyed with watching the Reds on TV.
    The NFL and their recent antics has caused me to ignore the Bengals (in the city in which I now reside) and enjoy the fall with other more meaningful activities. I was a season ticket holder for several years and just go tired of the Bengals losing and drama with the NFL.

  8. Vicki Bohl

    It depends upon the sport for me. I like football on the couch for the same reasons Mindy does, especially since I live in Wisconsin, and most of the season is too cold for this middle aged bod to sit on an aluminum bench, (and drive 3 hours each way for the “privilege”). BUT, hockey, now there’s another story. THAT is a game so much better in person than on TV, but maybe it’s because Blackhawks fans are just the best and the atmosphere is electric.
    The rest, maybe go there often enough so you can appreciate what it’s like, and then stay home most of the time?

  9. Mark

    I agree with Vicki, Hockey is much better in Stadium, allot of Visual and noise! Baseball is also better in the Stadium, it’s like a family. Football is a once a year experience, the Dallas Cowboys have a bigger Stadium but the seats are narrower than the seats on a MD-80 passenger jet, (Had a bad experience with a Peanut eater). Football is now a certified cry baby event so it has lost its luster. A hockey player can loose 3 teeth the previous game and still respect the flag and start the next game.
    I’d rather do Cad than watch sports on TV.


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