|One nation ... under a jersey|
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist
We're a passionate lot. And a little frightening.
We care so much about sports that we watch nearly 13 hours of it a week, log onto the Internet to read about it almost seven hours a week, skip school or work to go to games (51 percent), lie about going to games (19 percent), sneak in without paying (5 percent), ask God to help our team win the big game (58 percent), cry when it loses (34 percent) and cheer when an opponent gets hurt (39 percent).
We dress in the team's gear (85 percent), paint our faces with our team's colors (7 percent), guzzle beer (60 percent) and buy bobblehead dolls (35 percent). Sports are so much a part of our lives that we adjust our schedules to better fit them around sports. While watching games from home we eat (92 percent), work (39 percent), work out (35 percent) and have sex (22 percent). He ... may ... go ... all ... the ... way!
We even have sex at the ballpark (five percent), which is really disturbing when you consider that while doing so, we might very well be wearing replica jerseys, face paint and have beer on our breath.
And I don't doubt the surveys' findings. Heck, I would have answered yes to most of the questions myself. Well, not the sex part. Making love while you watch a game? I don't care what the depth of your passion is, that's a pretty messed up set of priorities. I mean, what if it causes you to miss a play?
Still, five percent of respondents said they had sex at a sporting event, which seems a little unbelievable, especially when you consider that Shawn Kemp did not take part in the survey. The breakdown also raises some questions -- 6 percent of male fans say they've had sex at a game while only 2 percent of female fans say it. That means: males are lying about their sexual conquest (that's not possible, is it?) or there is a small group of women I've certainly never heard about who are satisfying a large group of men or the question should have included the words "with a partner.''
Or, come to think of it, perhaps we're a lot more prepared for a ballplayer to come out of the closet than we've been led to believe.
Those results might also explain why three percent of fans said they named a child after a favorite player. Naturally, that figure is skewed somewhat by the fact that George Foreman accounts for two percent of those namings.
The survey asked fans whether fans wear team logo clothing to the game. Well, duh -- who doesn't? A more telling question is whether you wore it to your wedding.
The survey asked fans for their favorite team and why they root for them. A far more enlightening question would be to ask which team fans hate the most. For instance, it would have been interesting to learn if there really are any fans out there who don't hate the Yankees and more importantly, why not.
Has a sporting event ended a relationship? I think we can all relate to that, but the more important question is who got the season tickets and who got the bobblehead doll collection in the divorce settlement.
Do fans lie to our significant other/boss to go to a game? That's a good question, too, but a little restrictive. What with watching sports 13 hour a week, surfing the net seven hours and painting our faces green and gold, many of us don't have significant others or bosses to whom we could lie.
Sure, we might pray for our team to win and cheer when an opponent gets hurt, but how many of us pray that Art Modell falls out of his luxury suite and lands on Al Davis, killing both instantly?
Personally, I can't get over the image of a lone ultimate fan out there who answered yes to every single question, and who, even as you read this, is lying to his boss so he can paint his face with team colors, don his favorite replica jersey, sneak into the ballpark, buy a bobblehead doll, chug a couple 16-ounce cups of beer and have sex during the seventh inning stretch.
And the worst part of that image is the fan isn't me.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.