Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO / Unleashing my Inner Fandom with Care

Marjorie Spitz RentoComment

Ah the ups and downs of sports fandom.  I’ve seen it result in grown men crying.  In bringing cities together, as well as causing major strife. Total strangers will hug, smile and high five each other.  Yes, there is the occasional silly brawl, but that’s usually one or two drunken anomalies. 

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I am a lifelong Mets fan.  Win or lose.  Scandal or not.  The Mets is where my loyalties lie, regardless of all the jabbing and sarcasm I’ve taken over the years from those who root for that other baseball team in the Bronx (yes, they are home mowing the lawn right now and yes, I know how many rings they have.  Yawn.).  You’ll find no fair weather fan here!

NY Team sports were a big part of my life growing up and baseball especially feels like home to me.   I have wonderful memories of attending many games with my dad, brothers, mother (we went on Mother’s Day for years!) and friends.  

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I went to Citifield’s opening day (I miss Shea!) and spontaneously flew to St. Louis – booking flights at midnight for the next day  to see a playoff match up with a hard-core Cardinals fan. Yes, that's me surrounded by red.

Baseball is a Spitz family tradition that Bob had no choice but to join, and my brothers have carried on that ritual taking their families with pride. 

I love that sports provides a common platform that often crosses the divides of people of all ages, cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds and religions.   

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I forced myself to take a step back from sports a bit year’s ago, due to the fact it was stressing me out so much, I literally got sick.

Let's go back to the 90’s.  I was a young advertising executive running the account management department of hot creative ad agency, Mad Dogs and Englishmen.  The work was exhilarating, people smart and my days fun.  I had a big social circle, lots of activities, and was an avid New York sports fan.  My friends and I had our regular seats at a football stadium size restaurant called “Sports” where we’d watch every Sunday.  Both games.  I loved the environment so much I was sure I was going to hold my wedding there one day. They had bleachers and batting cages inside for goodness sake!   Anyway, cut to 1994,  my Knicks and Rangers (notice I said “my” because I would never miss a game for fear they would lose if I wasn’t fully engaged) were both in the playoffs and ultimately finals.  Each series went to the last do-or-die game, and I watched every second of it.  Usually at a bar, having some spicy wings and beer.  Until I woke up one of those nights in the wee hours of the morning with a sharp pain in my chest, and what I thought was a heart attack.  I blamed it on the one wing I had the previous night, but of course it wasn’t just the wing or the sports. 

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It was the way I managed stress in all areas of my life, whether it be my teams, my work, or relationships, coupled with my less than ideal eating and sleeping habits.  I’ve turned that around now, and am happy to report the illness no longer an issue.  “Sports” is gone (I did not get married there) and I replaced my Sunday rituals with other activities, as well as released my partial season tickets for all teams.   It was the end of an era and the start of a life journey that led me to the health coaching and corporate wellness programming that I practice today.

When I met my husband, he didn’t know this former me, so when about four years ago I made him stay until the bitter end of a 14-inning game (which we lost), he was done (c’mon, you never leave a game till it's over right??).  Since then, he has refused to watch another game with me, until last Saturday night when I actually begged.  Yes, the old sports fan in me does creep back in when I let it.

The familiar at-home feelings still feel wonderful, and I am reminded of the way a team can bring people together.

I have one friend who after years of bringing a book to ball games she begrudgingly attended, met her sports fanatic husband and became a die hard Phillies fan.  She can some times be untalktoable about it (yes that is a made up word we once used to refer to guys who were too drunk to converse with, but I digress).

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In the past few weeks, I’ve heard from people I haven't talked to in ages, all in support of our common team.  People wearing the team colors smile at each other on the NYC streets.  I wonder what other common passions we could tap into to produce similar results?  World peace?  Environmental awareness?  Hydration practices – imaging high fiving someone walking down the street for drinking a glass of water?  Ah, a girl can dream right?

For tonight’s game 3, the cap I’m wearing is from the first game that was played in New York after 9/11.  I went to that game with a friend who bought it for me.  It’s been worn during volunteer work at Ground Zero, and on a build for Habitat for Humanity after hurricane Katrina in LA.   For me, the joining together goes beyond the actual game.

That doesn’t negate the fact that right this minute, when I know that Bob has to get up tomorrow for a 6:00 a.m. flight, I have to restrain myself from requiring him to watch the game in its entirety out of ridiculous  superstitious fears that the universe may be off kilter if he doesn’t. Gosh it’s so easy to revert back isn’t it? 

But the bigger point is,  I’ve come to terms with the fact that I don’t control the game’s outcome.  We don’t have that power.  But we do have the power to control how we react, process and participate in what happens, and that’s a step in the right direction. 

So I’m back, with some healthful mechanisms and nuances securely in place.  And whether you see me in Port St. Lucie, Toronto, Shea, Citifield, St. Louis, volunteering or cheering at home, I have one thing to say:  “Let’s Go Mets.”

Batter up,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™