When you stop and think about it, are we really better or worse off having professional sports in our lives? Is it merely a cute harmless distraction from reality?
I think it depends on which teams you choose to love. If, like me, you mainly focus on the Minnesota and Philadelphia teams because of their connections with our lifetime mailing addresses, then it can be argued that having professional sports in our lives causes endless misery and heartbreak, and, if I wanted to dwell on that notion, I'd start harping on football: how horrible the Minnesota Vikings (1-8 so far) are this year or how the Philadelphia Eagles have no credible offense.
But, no, I'm in a Pollyanna mood, so let's find something to be glad about:
Basketball. The NBA's season is only a week old, but for the Minnesota Timberwolves, my bad-luck favorite, it's been good: 3 wins, no losses. They look amazing if they can avoid the injuries that usually doom them. And the Philadelphia 76ers, predicted before the season started to be the worst team, are also 3 and 0, including a victory over the champion Miami Heat.
Unfortunately, three games just won't do it -- each team plays 79 more games between now and April -- but Wolves and Sixers fans can feel good today and harbor some sort of guarded hope.
Hockey: My son Tom and I had a wonderful time last night seeing the Minnesota Wild defeat the New Jersey Devils, 4-0. The Wild seem to be having a pretty good season. I don't follow hockey too closely, but there is something about the energy of seeing hockey in person, along with 18,000 fans who all understand hockey rules better than I do, that draws me in. Go, Wild. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers are awful this year. Fortunately, we keep expectations low.
Added later: By 9 P.M. that evening, neither the Timberwolves nor the 76ers were still undefeated. I may have jinxed them.