As the clock ticked down the final seconds of Game 6 in the NHL Eastern Conference Championship between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadians five days ago, I was jumping in the air, my arms raised a with smile stretched across my entire face.
Moments later, it was over. The Rangers were going to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 20 years. As a die-hard Rangers, New York Mets, Knicks and Jets fan, it represented the first time since 2000 that a team I support made it to the championship.
I tried to think of the last time I literally jumped for joy. And I realized that it hasn’t happened in my adult life.
That’s not to say that I haven’t experienced happiness recently, but just nothing that would make me so euphoric that I couldn’t possibly contain my excitement.
As a young boy, I’m sure I leaped jubilantly upon learning school was canceled. Or surged with elation the night before Christmas.
But more than a decade later, it’s harder to find things that stimulate that childlike fervor one can only feel when they’re young and blissful. And I was completely unaware how long it’s been since I felt that.
That was until last Thursday, while in a bar, jumping like there was no tomorrow . For 120 hours since, I’ve been flying high, reveling in the knowledge that my beloved team will be playing for a world championship.
This is why we watch sports.
The irrational nature of being a die-hard sports fan is well documented. Each year, only the fans of one team are going to end up being happy. The fans of the other 30 or so teams will be distraught, disappointed, dispirited and will sulk in despair for months until the next season begins, when the vicious cycle repeats itself.
Why, you may ask yourself, do we do this? Why do we so blindly and wholeheartedly support these teams and watch every game knowing that it is likely to end in utter disappointment?
The answer is simple. Because every now and then, even if it takes years — 14 years, in fact — they will make you jump for joy with your hands up in the air, saying “Ayo.” They’ll make you into a Taio Cruz song.
And that feeling is worth it. The past 120 hours, for me, is affirmation as to why I love sports.
I’m aware the Rangers haven’t won anything yet. They could lose the series to the Los Angeles Kings, and just like that, the euphoria is gone, and once again, I’ll be left with a feeling of emptiness.
Or they could win. And the ecstasy will last months. Only time will tell.
It’s the years of suffering — the heartbreaking defeats, the improbable losses, the devastating collapses — that make the successes that much sweeter. It’s something casual sports fans don’t understand. For them, the tough times don’t have an impact. They’re not happy about it, but they don’t let it affect their lives. The die-hards do.
Every die-hard deserves his (or her!) moment.
I’m sure hoping this is mine.