With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, we find ourselves in the midst of the sports doldrums. Twice a year (the other being mid-July) sports fans are forced to traverse a landscape barren of any events or competitions worth noting. The NFL season is done, the draft is still months away, and all we have is the speculation of who might sign whom through free agency down the road. The NBA is in its mid-season grind when the intensity of the playoffs is still months away. College basketball is entertaining, but really, conference play is just the foothills of those glorious mountains we call “tournament time.” Baseball fans crow about pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, and it’s a hopeful mile marker—but about as interesting as one, too. Many will cry, “Look, the Winter Olympics,” and some will find it fascinating, but mostly because of the human-interest stories and the accompanying national goodwill, not the sports themselves.
So here we find ourselves. How are you holding up? Do you have the shakes yet? Are you irritable and cranky? Do you wonder how you’ll fill your time and what will bring joy into your life? Sounds like you might be going through withdrawal. Maybe doing without a decent sporting high would do you good for a while.
Maybe it’s time for a self-evaluation. Ask yourself how you spend your time. Consider your own emotional investment in sports. If it ruins life when they’re gone that should tell you something. Maybe it’s time to do as a wise man once said and “Take a vacation from your problems.”
If you’re unwilling to reevaluate, if sports have determined the structure of your life and the expenditure of your time, it is an idol. If you can’t find just as much happiness in other areas of life and this slow time of the sports year creates a vacuum that can’t be filled, sports is an idol. The doldrums are a short-lived break, halftime, a seasonal mandatory vacation. Make necessary adjustments so when the action is popping again you can truly enjoy it without it ruling you.
I love sports. And I love them more freely because I am (mostly) free from them. What once was an idol, a misplaced source of happiness and the requisite unhappiness, is now an outlet for enjoyment. I only found this balance when I recognized the pattern of misery in my life every time I hit the doldrums. I never went cold turkey; I simply re-prioritized. Once the things in life that deserve our best receive our best all the other good things, like sports, get better.