Heavy head. Foggy brain. Hollow heart. Monday morning. “I don’t want to get out of bed,” I text my friend. “I know. I can’t sleep,” he replies. He’s in that time zone—GMT—which I think might make it worse.
I’ve experienced this dejection before. You have too, I’m sure. Rooting for a sports person/team is not a social activity. It is an emotional investment. You are left feeling either exhilarated or spent, depending on the outcome.
Last night was no different. What was at stake: Two of sport’s biggest prizes, the ICC Cricket World Cup and the grandest slam of them all, Wimbledon.
These weren’t ordinary matches either. It’s easier if the result of a one-sided game doesn’t go the right way. You make your peace with it long before the covers come on the grounds. This wasn’t that, though. These were intense sporting spectacles, no one giving an inch, fighting till the finish.
Anxiety-laced hope was the overriding feeling for fans on either side of the net, or wicket. I was rooting for New Zealand, but the support was limited to this match. I was a fan by exception rather than as a rule.
I was also rooting for Roger Federer. And I am always rooting for Roger Federer. I am his fan with passion, with no exception. There are knots in my stomach when he plays. I get superstitious. I finding myself crossing my fingers and toes randomly.
Most of you will empathise. You too feel like this about an athlete. Or a team.
It is in the nature of things. Maradona was God to millions, remember? As was Sachin Tendulkar. Or Michael Schumacher. Pele. Steffi Graf. Messi.
They are the chosen ones. Their skills are superhuman. So they assume mythical proportions—almost Tolkniesque. The adulation is inevitably commensurate.
This morning, then, as I tossed and turned, I thought I must share my sense of loss. That I can write this without shedding a tear is a good sign. I’m still in control. Unlike the unfortunate few who identify themselves so deeply with their idols’ fortunes that they lose themselves. Often, after an India defeat in cricket, there are unfortunate reports of fan deaths. That is an extreme obsession, and for that I’d, in all seriousness, recommend seeking help.
But not wanting to get out bed? That is acceptable. I think so.
(Particularly when my yoga teacher arrived soon after, I had to do some surya namaskars and come to Starbucks to write this piece. So much for the joy of wallowing.)
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