Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cheering Hazard

As fans, we recognize we have no control over the performance of the team we root for. Certainly that team's performance affects us in deep ways, but we recognize that in our rooting, we are voluntarily setting aside our free will. The team's accomplishments and failures are not ours: we are cheering for the Fates. We may attach ourselves to their performance, but when we cheer or grimace for our team, it is little different than cheering or grimacing over a roll of dice. We can't control it, but we care deeply about how it rolls.

I think about this after reading Pat Reusse's sentence regarding the pass interference penalty on Leigh Bodden at the end of today's Viking-Lion game:

"The ticketholders who were cheering this turn of events, rather hanging their heads in shame over the injustice, should join me in apologizing to Bodden."

As a fan watching the game, yes, I cheered that turn of events. I don't think there was any reason to hang my head in shame. After all, whether Allison had caught the ball or whether a pass interference penalty put the ball at that spot, I had no control over it. Where's the shame for me? Shame for the refs? I don't know. Shame for the Viking players? You could make the argument. But as fans, we are always cheering for events outside our control. Why shouldn't we cheer or boo a referee's call, any more or less than we'd boo or cheer a play by a Viking player? We're already in a position in which we're investing emotion in events beyond our control. Our minds are already set to do this. How do we tune our minds to root when player performance beyond our control brings us pleasure, but to hang our heads in shame when an official's call beyond our control brings us pleasure?

Certainly I would rather not have questionable officiating calls contribute to a Viking win; I'd rather have the Viking win be clearly eaned (still, I see bad calls balancing out over the long run: I believe I've seen the Vikings lose games in part because of bad officiating calls. When a bad calls go our way, we have no reason to apologize; the other team's fans aren't apologizing to us when the bad calls go against us). But no matter what, I'm rooting for a Viking win, and though I'm investing emotions, I don't control it.

I'm cheering the Fates.

I'm cheering Hazard, a roll of dice. How exactly the dice land the way I wish them to really doesn't matter to me; once they've landed that way, I only smile at the numbers.

Also on Pacifist Viking:
Halftime: Lions 3, Vikings 2
Trailing Clouds of Heaven: Vikings 12, Lions 10
Further Reflections on the Vikings

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