Consider this passage from Simmons on the possibility that the Colts could miss the AFC Championship Game:
"The Patriots fan in me is furious because a 19-0 season wouldn't feel quite the same if they didn't beat the Colts twice.
" You know what it's like, actually? When the '86 Celtics were slapping together the greatest NBA season ever, they avenged the '85 Finals in two regular-season wins over the Lakers, rolled through the East in the playoffs and were poised to destroy Showtime as we knew it. So what happened? The Lakers never showed up! They got smoked in the West finals by an underrated Houston team. To this day, every Celtics fan feels cheated by the fact we didn't get the Lakers."
Dear Mr. Simmons,
We're sorry that the last time your favorite basketball team won a championship, they didn't get to beat the Lakers to make the experience even more special for you. That must have been tough. We'll also be sorry if your favorite football team doesn't get to beat the Colts in the playoffs this season to make a fourth Super Bowl and an undefeated season even more special for you. I know that will be difficult.
Fans of teams that have never won a championship.
Randy Moss is quite possibly my favorite athlete of all-time. When he was a Viking, I dreamed that Moss could break Jerry Rice's single-season touchdown reception record of 22. I had such joy watching his spectacular catches: I used to tape the games so that I could come back, again and again and again, to see the mind-boggling receptions. Little gave me more joy in life than a Randy Moss touchdown.
Now Randy Moss has 16 TD receptions in 11 games, threatening Jerry Rice's record. Now Moss is rejuvenated, making spectacular catches every game, continually topping himself.
But I can't enjoy it at all. I can barely watch the games he plays in (and I often choose not to). That Moss's spectacular play is helping Tom Brady, the Patriots, and the spoiled fans of Boston sports teams, just galls me. It's made this NFL season really difficult to follow. Randy Moss's brilliance for the Patriots is even harder for me to take than Brett Favre's brilliance for the 9-1 Packers. I basically want to follow the Vikings and ignore the rest of the league. I could be enjoying watching the brilliant offense that is the Randy Moss-Tom Brady Patriots. They are ruthlessly good. But I can't. I get no pleasure from it at all. The Patriots are the best team ever. They're 10-0 and have outscored their opponents 411-157. And it just makes me sad.
King Lear questions the existence of divine justice. Some characters assert that there are gods in the heavens that punish the wicked and reward the good. Other characters suggest moral character and earthly reward are unrelated, and the events of the play suggest an amoral, indifferent, or perhaps even malevolent universe.
Though King Lear cannot offer us comfort, it can offer us a context in understanding sports. Sports fan pleasure is distributed unequally: fans of some teams get a lot of pleasure, while fans of other teams get very little pleasure. This unequal distribution is not tied to morality, for what, in essence, is the difference between a 49er fan, a Viking fan, a Patriot fan, a Browns fan, an Eagle fan, a Bills fan? Fans of a team don't do anything to deserve pleasure or misery. It just happens, with no sense of fairness or reason, no punishment or reward. Patriot fans currently get a lot of pleasure, while fans of all sorts of other teams get a lot of disappointment. There's no moral reason. There's no fault. Nothing is deserved. It just happens. Patriot fans don't deserve all sorts of pleasure, in the same way Bills fans don't deserve all sorts of misery.