Loving the things that saved me

Passion.

I guess that sums up all you need to know. About me, that is.

Recently, I read a pretty lovely book called “Baseball Life Advice – Loving the Game that Saved Me” by Stacey May Fowles. I had been made aware of that book while reading through my Toronto Blue Jays Twitter feed. Let’s put aside that this book is about baseball in general and the Blue Jays in particular and that I happen to like that franchise, it hit home on several aspects and levels. Fowles, who also runs a newsletter called “Baseball Life Advice”, gives a vivid account on how her love for Blue Jays baseball helps her coping with anxiety and depression, as well as some others. How the sport of baseball is a safe haven for her and gives her something to hold on to. The emotions she goes through when watching her Jays.

(She also writes about the negative sides of professional sports, like for example domestic violence, so it’s not only cotton candy and rainbows, iykwim. But that is another story for another time.)

This sounded awfully familiar when looking at my own life. If there is anything, aside from music, I am passionate about it’s sports. I am far too emotionally invested at times, but hey, at least that means I am still alive. 😉 That is to say, when I hit rock bottom in 2010, it was sports and music which kept me going. I couldn’t keep my attention span up long enough to really immerse in a novel, or watch movies, it was just not possible. But sports? That was something entirely different. It was essentially what kept the flame inside me burning …

So, how did this whole mess begin, you ask? Let’s take a stroll down Memory Lane!

My late Dad was a football (soccer) coach on amateur level. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the first sport I ever was a fan of was the beautiful game, as I literally grew up on the sidelines of various pitches in and nearby my hometown. The first “footie” game on the big stage I remember (consciously) watching was the 1986 World Cup final between (West-)Germany and Argentina. My first ever stadium visit, however, didn’t come until 1994.

As I grew older, I of course became aware that the wide world of sports is not just limited to footie, but also a ton of other things to dedicate myself to. I mean – there are so many to choose from, so why just limiting myself to only one? Said and done.

Granted, just like with bands, sports teams I was following came and went (as in, I committed the “sin” of switching teams or simply lost interest again in the sport; like skijumping or F1), but the passion remained intact all these years. What also helped was that I grew up during the 1990s, when the NBA was THE Big Thing over here, and I literally looked like a walking, talking,  breathing Chicago Bulls fanshop (that, or I was wearing SC Freiburg‘s colors which are, fortunately, identical to the black-red of the Bulls). The Bulls were me, and I was the Bulls. Including getting up at Unholy O’Clock to watch the NBA finals against the Utah Jazz. Everyone in my circle back then associated the franchise with me. (Some even remember my SCF fan days.) My bedroom walls were covered with Bulls posters, as well as some other teams from other sports (heck, even wrestling ones), somewhere in there was one of Miami Dolphins Quarterback Dan Marino (although I actually preferred Brett Favre).

(Let’s just not talk about the embarrassing couple of months when I decided I was a Backstreet Boys fan and my whole damn room was covered with BSB posters ceiling to floor.)

At some point, NBA wasn’t enough anymore. NFL was still a bit of the Great Unknown to me, aside from the fact that I obviously had read about some of their greats back then. And then the NHL happened. The San Jose Sharks, to be precise, as you have gathered from my last two entries. They kind of stood out to me, with the Sharks (because, let’s face it, sharks are fascinating animals) theme and all (after all, the first ever hockey team I had ever heard of was the one from Cologne, which are … Sharks), their colors were nice, too, and they were a “fresh” face in the NHL, with their inaugural season being 1991/1992.

Back then, we didn’t have Internet, so I had to rely on weekly run downs of NBA and NHL news on German TV, but that didn’t stop me.

If anything, it fueled the fire throughout the years …

… and I knew I had found something that was going to be mine. My passion. My escape from the hurricane in my head. Something which gave me something to hold on to, just like the Blue Jays did with Stacey May Fowles.  I could relate to so many things she wrote about in her book.

When I moved to Berlin in the summer of 2011, the first thing I bought was a season ticket for Hertha BSC‘s Ostkurve, the supporter’s block. I didn’t have a working contract anywhere, nor did I have a flat, but I did have the season ticket. Priorities, you know? Going to the stadium was a bit of coming into my Happy Place. Being there with the supporters, cheering on the club that I’d discovered back in 1990 and been following since (and which is, literally, under my skin), leaving all the troubles, fears, bad mood etc behind me for the duration of the game. Shouting insults at the opponents and flipping the bird at them included. Granted, it’s a bit of a sadomasochistic relationship with this team, but I wouldn’t wanna have it any other way. I may have stepped down from being an “active” supporter by now, which means, I won’t renew my season ticket next season, but that has other reasons. I am still a member, though.

Occasionally, you can also find me traveling, time and – especially – money permitting. From watching a tennis tournament in Madrid twice (without speaking Spanish) to MotoGP races to getting my butt to Barcelona in 2013 to attend the FINA World Championships in swimming, including hanging out in front of the hotel where the US Swim Team were staying in because Ryan Lochte.

And you know what?

It makes me fucking happy!

Moreover, I have met awesome people because of sports, some of which have become really close friends whom I wouldn’t want to miss in my life anymore.
Heck, I even found another Comfort Zone away from my usual Comfort Zone when I left a comment on a New England Patriots FB page asking where the fans are located: “Berlin, Germany.” Next thing I knew was a nice guy replied to my comment and invited me to join a group called “Patriots Fans Germany”, essentially a huuuuuuuuuge fanbase of German Pats fans.

The Comfort Zone?

Meet ups during the regular season to watch games together in an Irish pub here in Berlin. Find me there when there are 7pm kick offs (German time). Usually, interacting with people starts stressing me out at some point, but these regular events are fun and help me to come out of my shell a bit. And yes, Superbowl Parties are, of course, also a thing there.

Lastly, I love reading about sports. Be it about the teams’ histories or (auto-)biographies of the respective athletes. In my opinion, athletes as well as musicians are my biggest inspirations in life. The hard work they put in to make it to the very top. The set backs, the comebacks. Their will and their passion. Them making their dreams come true, and, ultimately, proving nay-sayers wrong.

So, taking all of this into consideration, my undying passion for sports cannot be a bad thing, right?

I still dress like a walking, talking, breathing fanshop, and I am entirely unapologetic about it!

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photo: sunset over the Olympiastadion; taken by me

 

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