A Case for the Wicked Child

Calling out the Narrator

At the Seder, we read about Four Children: one is called wise, one wicked, one simple and one, we are told, does not know how to ask. These children are labeled based on the questions they ask and the narrator’s belief about what is driving those questions.

The first child is called wise because his question “what are the testimonies, statues and laws that God, our Lord, has commanded you?” is taken to demonstrate his commitment to following the practices and customs in the way that his community does. This child, according to the narrator of the text, is to be praised and instructed on the proper proceedings.

The second child is called wicked because her question “what is this service to you?” is taken as a rebuke of her community. The narrator of this text interprets her question as coming from someone who sees herself as outside of the community and for this she is reprimanded and condemned to a fate without the possibility of redemption.

The third and fourth children are neither praised nor scorned. Their respective question, “what is this?” and silence are accepted and responded to with a general refrain that aims to give them enough information to remain engaged in the ritual practice.

In first studying this text I was struck by the harsh singling out of the child that is called wicked. “What is this service to you?” seems like quite an innocent question, a question of curiosity, a question seeking deeper meaning and personal connection. Why, then, is the narrator so offended by this question that they must treat this child so harshly? Why do we take for granted the narrator’s presumption that this child see herself as being outside of the community?

As I began asking these questions I discovered that many people had not previously considered the narrator to be a character in this text – so powerful is the voice of the narrator that we fail to see that it is even there, telling us how to read the intentions of the other characters, telling us who to praise and who to scorn. But to me, the narrator is the text’s central character. The narrator is the authoritative voice that frames and interprets what we see and hear.

Because we grow up with the narrator’s voice in our heads we believe that this child, who is doing nothing more than asking a challenging question, is excluding herself from the community. We begin to believe that anyone in our community who asks challenging questions must be somehow turning their back on us. As a community, we marginalize voices of dissent. More than that, we quiet the dissenting voices inside ourselves out of fear that they will not be heard, accepted or validated. We fear that if we say an unpopular thing, if we challenge the main stream way of thinking, we will be alienated from the community, we will be called wicked. So often, and especially in moments that hold the most tension, we stay quiet, swallowing our questions, alienating ourselves.

Perhaps, if we recognize what the narrator is doing, perhaps if we recognize the source of these voices in our heads, we could question the assumptions at the core of the stories that don’t sit well with us, we could discover new interpretations of these texts, and through them we could discover new things about ourselves.

Wrestling with the Text

There are many interpretations of the story of the four children. Some say that the children symbolize different stages of development that each of us go through in our lives. Some see this story as demonstrating a very early progressive view on education telling us to look at the individual needs of each of our children and teach them accordingly. But none of these interpretations address the struggle I have with the basic premise of the characterization of this one child as wicked and the real life repercussions that such a characterization has for the Jewish community.

I have also read an account of this story where this child is called rebellious and is praised. This I find dissatisfying as well because it does not actually address the problematic characterization of this child as wicked, it simply changes the story.

When we come up against something in our culture, in our history, that does not sit well with us, I do not want to simply change the story, to brush the problematic text under the rug. I want to engage the problematic text, I want to wrestle with it, I want to be made uncomfortable by the customs and beliefs that my ancestors came up with to survive in a harsher world than the one I was born into. I want to search for their wisdom and argue with them where I think that they faltered. I want to discover wisdom in their writing that they themselves may not have even recognized.

Yes, changing the story stops sending the children at the table the message that if they ask an unpopular question they will be chastised, but it does not address the fact that this message has been sent, has taken root in our collective consciousness. Is not the child who grows up thinking they are rebellious and should be praised being set up for disappointment when she finds out that the rest of the community sees her as wicked?

Another Interpretation

Let us presume for a moment that the narrator is a character in this text and, like all characters, has a point of view, an agenda. The narrator, I would argue, is a stand in for the community, more specifically for the authoritative voice in the community, the establishment, the status quo.

The narrator’s function in the story is to maintain order at the Seder. When the first child asks about rituals and procedures the narrator is pleased because this question moves us along in the program. The answers to this question can be found in the text and so the narrator deems this child wise.

Moments later, the second child asks “what is this service to you?”. This is a personal question, a question of meaning, a question seeking a deeper connection with those of whom it is asked. It is a question whose answer cannot be found in the text, rather it is a question for the soul. It is a question that asks the community to defend their beliefs, to express the personal connection that they feel with the rituals and practices in which they are engaged. It is a question that holds up a mirror and asks us to look at who we are in relation to who we want to or claim to be.

But the community does not want to face this mirror so the narrator calls this child wicked and claims that it is she that is creating the separation.

A Seat at the Table

As someone who identifies with placing meaning over practice, with spirit over law, I too have been cast aside. I too have been called wicked because of the questions I ask, the assumptions that I challenge. I too have been seen as an outsider in my community and told that it is I who have put myself there.

For many years I carried anger over this text. How could a text that treats a character I identify with so badly be part of a ritual that I identify with so much?

And then it occurred to me that despite the narrator’s condemnation of this child, despite the characterization of this child as wicked and the proclamation that this child is not to be redeemed… every year, when passover comes around, this child is invited back to the Seder. This child is given a seat at the table and the opportunity to ask her question. No, the question will not be received well by the narrator – establishment voices are not supposed to welcome challenges, it’s not what they do. But the narrator, powerful as his voice may be, cannot, after all these years, keep the child he deems wicked away from the Seder. He cannot stop her from asking her question and he cannot stop the other children, the ones who are perhaps not yet ready to speak, from hearing what she has to say.

A Path Towards Redemption

The world is feeling a little unstable right now. I doubt I am the only one who does not quite know what to do with all that I am feeling, with all that I am thinking, with all that I am worried about. In times like these, voices like the narrator of this story get louder. Whether those voices come from politicians, leaders of establishment institutions, or inside our own heads, they keep us from asking the difficult questions, they keep us from examining why it is that we do what we do (think what we think, believe what we believe) and they keep us from remembering the importance of the personal connections we have with our stories and with each other.

It is, therefore, more important than ever that the wicked child keeps her seat at the table. As we enter the week of passover, a week where Jews around the world celebrate our ancient liberation and our current freedom, let us pay extra attention to the voices of the “wicked children” among us, the voices that challenge our thinking, that ask us to question the assumptions we carry, that hold up a mirror that which we may not want to face. Let us spend this passover wrestling with questions of meaning that might make us uncomfortable.

What does this service mean to you? What does it mean to you to be celebrating our freedom while our country is dropping bombs on people across the world? What does it mean to you to be celebrating our ancient liberation from Mitzrayim while bombs are going off in Egypt? What does it mean to you to live with freedom in a society that knows oppression? And, perhaps most importantly, what is there to learn from the act of sitting with loved ones and wrestling with a thousands year old text about a thousands year old story that you can apply towards the project of building a better world today?

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Awake Today…

I don’t know what to write but I know I have to write. I don’t know what to do but I know I have to do. I don’t know what to believe but I know I have to believe.

I am awake today.

This day we are waking up to has been a long time coming. It is not an aberration in the story of this country. It is an honest day in the history of this country. It is a reminder to those who believed the alluring narrative of steady progress that the world does not work the way we wish it to. It is a reminder to those who believed that facts and figures and rational arguments will always win the day that they have spent too much time with algorithms and models and not enough time with actual people. It is a reminder to those who who believed in the system that the system was not built for justice.

This day comes as a reminder that it has always been easier to destroy than to build; that it has always been easier to harm than to heal; that it has always been easier to hate than to love. But on this day we must also remember that there have always been people who choose to build, who strive to heal, who dare to love. It is those people to keep in our thoughts today. It is those stories to hold in our bodies today. It is their legacy we must choose to follow today.

This day brings with it vigor and determination. It brings fear and sadness and rage. It bring fellowship, it brings commitment. On this day we are awake together.

This day will pass. Soon it will be tomorrow and then the day after. Will you be awake with me tomorrow? Will you stay awake with me through the next thousand tomorrows?

After this day is over, will you promise to not go back to sleep?

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Hillel’s Three Truths…


For more than two decades, I have been engaged in conversations about the “conflict” in Israel and Palestine. It is a conflict so full of competing truths that even the use of those two words (Israel and Palestine) can be seen as signals for which “side” you are on. Throughout these years of conversation I have always held a nuanced view. I have always searched for a truth that has met the complexities of life.

As a Jew, born in New York to grandparents who escaped Nazi Germany, I am more than just a little bit aware of the dangers of Anti-Semitism. I know the pain and inherited trauma that comes from growing up in the shadow of a holocaust. I believe in and will fight for my people’s right to self-determination.

I think of the ancient Hillel’s first truth: If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

I understand it to mean that I cannot expect anyone else to take responsibility for me if I am not taking responsibility for myself. We cannot expect anyone else to care about our people if we do not care about ourselves. And, regardless of how much we agree or disagree, I feel a very strong connection and responsibility towards my people.

And…

As a Jew, born in New York to grandparents who escaped Nazi Germany, I am aware of the dangers of hate and dehumanization. I know all too well what happens when hate and fear are allowed to grow and embed themselves into the fabric of a society. I grew up with stories of freedom fighters and allies who put their lives on the line to save the lives that would eventually lead to mine. I believe in and will fight for all peoples’ right to self-determination.

I hear Hillel’s second truth: If I am for myself only, what am I?

I understand it to mean that I cannot go through life only believing my point of view, only giving validity to my lens, only taking my side. Regardless of how much or little we have in common – in language, in lens or in experience – I feel a strong connection and responsibility towards all people, especially marginalized peoples and communities that are the targets of oppression.

It is the combination of these two truths, of these two perspectives, that allows me to see the conflict in Israel and Palestine through a nuanced lens. I can understand the need for a Jewish homeland in a world full of and with a long history of Anti-Semitism. Just as I can understand the need for a Palestinian state in a land that has a long history and current reality of being ruled and occupied by military force.

I can understand the historical and visceral fear that makes every attack on Israel feel like it could be the beginning of a new existential threat to the Jewish people. And I can understand the existential need to resist against one’s oppressors as expressed in the Palestinian intifadas of the last thirty years.

I can understand how two historically oppressed and traumatized peoples, who were each told they could have the same piece of land for themselves to rule, would find themselves in conflict and unable or unwilling to trust each other. I can also understand that the reality of the conflict is that it is not between two equally equipped “sides”. And I can understand how that does not change things emotionally for the “side” with the army because the real feeling of existential threat is so strong.

And I can go back and forth all day long and even though I don’t agree with all of the points on either “side”, I can see them and I can see how complicated this situation is. I can see that it is not as simple as either “side’s” truth wants you to believe.

Then…

As a Jew, born in New York to grandparents who escaped Nazi Germany, I think about the bystanders. I think about the Germans who were “just following orders”, I think about the American Jews who thought “it couldn’t really be that bad”, I think about the U.S. government that turned away Jewish refugees.

I hear Hillel’s third truth: If not now, when?

I understand it to mean that as an American Jew who believes in justice for all people, it is my responsibility to stand up, to speak loudly and to act in defense of the values that my people have taught me. Especially when it is my people that need to hear it. Especially when the institutions that exist to speak for me are not speaking my truth, are not speaking the truth of my people, are not speaking the values that they raised me on.

And when I hear “If not now, when”, all of these complexities fade away and I am left with a very simple thought: The occupation of the West Bank and the de facto occupation and blockade of Gaza is wrong. It is a plague on both of our houses. It dehumanizes both of our peoples. The truth is that none of the complexities of the situation matter when placed next to the simple reality of a military occupation that forces millions of people to live as though in prison.

I believe in a nuanced resolution to the question of how these nations of people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea will coexist. I am sickened by and scared of the hatred and racism being expressed in Israel and by Jews around the world. I am sickened by and scared of the Anti-Semitism that so easily surfaces and becomes wrongly conflated with solidarity for Palestinians.

But this week, as we prepare for pesach, as we turn our minds towards a holiday that celebrates the liberation of our people, as we prepare to sing “we were slaves, now we are the children of free people” it occurs to me that now is not the time for the nuanced resolution. Now is not the time for “it’s complicated”. Now is not even the time for shared understanding. Now is the time to end the occupation. Now is the time for our people to put down the sword of the oppressor. Now is the time to say “Enough!”

Then we can talk about nuance. Then we can talk about hateful speech. Then we can start to do the work of finding resolution. But first we need to stand up for what is right. First we need to hold our own community accountable for what is absolutely and unequivocally wrong.

If I do not stand up for the values of my people…
If I do not hold my people accountable for the actions they are committing in my name…
If I do not make my voice heard now…
… then when?

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Mets Fan’s Lament Revisited (or) Why I Still Believe…

I have been a Mets fan my entire life. In 1986 as I was turning eight years old the mets were in the middle of the most glorious of baseball runs. An uber-talented team that played with an attitude befitting the city from which they hailed. A fun and feisty team that played hard, had fun and knew just how good they were. I have vivid memories of cheering my little heart out when they beat the Astros in extra innings to win the National League Championship. And when Mookie Wilson hit that ball through Bill Buckner’s legs, I remember running out of my room screaming, cheering, my little body unsure of what to do with all of that emotion.

The exuberance of my team winning the world series was something I would never forget. And so far never has had to last twenty-nine years. Don’t get me wrong, there has been plenty of excitement and plenty of exuberant moments in my life as a Mets fan but nothing is quite like the feeling of a World Series title. And nothing is quite like the disappointment of continuously not making it there.

In September of 2008, during what was to become the second straight late season collapse by my beloved New York Mets, I decided that I needed to pay my respects to Shea Stadium one last time before they tore it down. I sat in the upper deck above the third base dugout. A few rows behind me and to my left there were a pair of Mets fans who have been quite vocal and moderately obnoxious throughout the game. About half-way through the game things start unraveling and it’s looking like we’re gonna blow another lead. At this point I hear one of these fans turn to the other and lament, “I had the fortune of being born in the city with the winningest franchise in the history of sports… and I had to be a Mets fan”.

I knew exactly how he felt. How nice would it be if, every few years, my team won the World Series? How great would it feel to know, not just hope or believe, but know that my team was going to make the playoffs – if not this year then certainly next. How satisfying would it be to have my team consistently sign the best of the best and be certain that a bad contract wouldn’t ruin our payroll for years to come? And how frustrating is it that a team just like that plays one borough over and has a larger, louder and more obnoxious fan base?

But I want to focus on a different element of that statement. He had to be a Mets fan. And that is exactly how I feel. Being a Mets fan is not something I chose, it is something that I am. It gets at a certain essence of who I am… deep down. At the core of my being I am someone who believes. I believe in people, I believe in community, I believe in the power of a team. I believe that when these three things come together we can make miracles. And I believe that rooting, cheering, hoping for a miracle is much more fun than rooting for the inevitable.

A few days removed from the bitter taste of losing the World Series I am able to recognize that this was one of those miracle seasons. At the beginning of the season the only people on the planet who could imagine, let alone predict, that the Mets would win their division and make it to the World Series were Mets Fans. And even we, if forced to think with our heads instead of our hearts, would not have predicted it. Oh yes, we believed, but we also believed that in 2008 Oliver Perez was going to lead us to post season glory, we also believed that Lastings Millage was going to be the next great star of the baseball world. We believe, we believe and we believe. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. Yes we may be cynical, yes we may sound defeatist, yes we are a bunch of superstitious, slightly paranoid, fairly neurotic nay sayers. But that is all on the surface. Deep down we want to believe, we’ve got to believe.

So on April 14th when I went to see the first game Matt Harvey would pitch at home since 2013 I was ready to believe that this was our year. Eight innings into the game when David Wright got injured trying to steal second base I was ready to believe that if we just held our own for the couple of weeks that he would be out, everything would be ok.

But as the weeks went on, the injuries piled up and our record settled in around .500, I started to get concerned. The next game I went to the mets got no-hit. Everyone was, once again, writing the Mets off, waiting for the Nationals to get their act together and play like the team they were expected to be. I didn’t want this season to follow the same old pattern I was getting used to. I wanted this season to be different. I wanted to believe.

And then a few things happened. Jacob deGrom lit up the All-Star Game. The front office decided to trade for players to strengthen the line-up. And on July 29th Wilmer Flores showed us all how much he believed. How often, in the age of “reality” TV and viral videos, do we get to see a human being show emotion and vulnerability in a genuinely unscripted moment? How often in the business of sports do we get to see a ballplayer show us just how much he wants to be a part of our team?

I watched the game the night Wilmer didn’t get traded. I watched the next day as the storm came in and it felt like those rain delays might just wash away the entire season. And I listed on the radio the next night as Wilmer Flores took in his many standing ovations and walked off with the game winning home run in the bottom of the 12th.

In the last three months I have had many conversations with people where I found myself defending my love of baseball. Each time I told the story of those three days, of the player who wore his emotions on his sleeve, the player who’s tears of sadness at the thought of having to leave the only team he’s ever known were turned to tears of joy as he rounded third and saw that whole team cheering him on, waiting for him at home. And each time I told that story I found tears creeping out of my eyes, betraying my own emotions and revealing exactly what it is that makes me believe.

By the end of that weekend the mets were moving into first place and didn’t look back for the rest of the season. The last two months of the summer and the first two rounds of the playoffs were some of the most fun I’ve had as a sports fan. Yes, losing the world series sucks. Yes, it especially sucks when four times you take a lead into the 8th inning and only come away with one victory. But even in the frustration of losing those last two World Series games there was a part of me that could recognize that this was a miracle season and this is a miracle team.

As I reflect on this past season I can’t help but think back to that half-drunk, slightly aggressive fan who’s lament has stuck with me all these years. And perhaps I hear it differently now. I had to be a mets fan. Not because there were no other options, not because I was somehow cursed, but because deep down, as a person who believes, who needs to believe, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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A Little Baseball Wisdom…

It sounds ridiculous even as I write it but at this moment there is literally nothing I want more than for the Mets to make a miraculous comeback and win the World Series. In some ways winning from this position – down three games to one, backs against the wall – would make it all the more satisfying a victory. It would play right into the historic legacy of the “Miracle Mets” and redeem a team and fan-base that has lived by the mantra “YaGottaBelieve” since long before writing phrases without spaces between the words became popularized by Twitter.

This morning while texting with a friend I found myself lamenting how awful last nights game was. Another late inning meltdown by our bullpen and defense had me incredibly frustrated. Then I took a step back from myself and remembered that it wasn’t an awful game. It was an awful half inning, an awful loss and it feels awful to have once again blown a lead late in the game, but the game itself was a pretty good one. And throughout most of the game I was actually feeling great. There was a lot of tension and excitement. We were pitching well, we were fielding well, our rookie left fielder had two home runs in the game. Up until the end of the seventh inning it was a really fun game to watch.

It is, therefore, a little strange that my memory of my experience of the game was that it was awful, especially since I didn’t actually watch the last two innings. The bar I had been watching in turned off the game after the seventh inning because they were closing for a private Halloween party. When I stopped watching we were up 3-2. I only heard about the blown save later. I still have not even seen the replay of what exactly happened to lose us the game. And yet the knowledge of what happened has somehow eclipsed my memory of my own experience. It is as though the end result being a loss completely erased all of the positive moments that, had the game resulted in a win, would have become defining memories.

So what happened to the joy that I felt when Michael Conforto hit his second home run? What happened to the joy that he felt in that moment? Does that joy just disappear? The film Inside Out suggests that the memory of that moment becomes shaded in sadness but I am asking what happens to the joy that was felt in that moment itself. Where did that go? And what’s going to happen if the Mets lose tonight? Or Tuesday or Wednesday if it even goes that far? What is going to happen to all of the joyous moments that I have been accumulating over the course of this season? Will they all be turned into sad memories? Will they forever be covered with the bitterness of getting so close? Is it possible for me to find a way to hold on to the Joyous moments regardless of what happens in the end?

This question feels so important to me right now because it is something that I am struggling with in my life outside of baseball as well. How do I prevent the pain I am feeling from the end of a relationship from eviscerating all of the wonderful and joyful moments in that relationship? How do I continue to be nourished by the joy I felt from work I was engaged in even if it is no longer possible for me to continue that work? How do I hold on to the joyous moments that I experience even when those moments do not lead me to a place that I want to be?

The answer, I imagine, is to find a way to hold on to, believe in and value the little moments and experience that I have as much if not more than I value the score at the end of the game. Yes I want to win. Yes I want a relationship that lasts and turns into something that will be with me forever. Yes I want the great work I do to be able to continue in the ways that I want it to. And of course I want my experiences to lead me towards the life I’ve always wanted.

But if it’s true that you can’t win ‘em all, then it’s pretty important to learn how to take as much (if not vastly more) time reveling in the joyous moments that build you up as you take grieving the painful moments that bring you back down.

The good news is there is precedent in my life for being able to do this. In 2006, a few innings before Carlos Beltran watched strike three end all of our hopes for that season and, though we didn’t know it at the time, an entire decade, Endy Chavez made one of the most spectacular and memorable plays I had ever scene, turning what would have been a home run into an inning ending double play. I remember how excited I was in that moment. I remember how disappointed I was those few innings later.

Yes the Chavez play would have been sweeter if we won the game. Yes Daniel Murphy’s dominance in the first two rounds of the playoffs will be a better story if we somehow win it all. But at the end of the day I did get to experience those joyous moments and it is up to me to believe in and hold onto that joy even if, in the end, those moments don’t get us all the way to where we want to be.

Let’s Go Mets!

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Thirty-Seven

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of my all time favorite movies. When George Bailey wakes back up in his reality and can suddenly appreciate all of the wonderful little things that make up the life that he has lived; when he runs through the town he has always complained about living in and sees it, perhaps for the first time, for all of the things he loves about it; when he reaches his house to find all of the members of his community, all of the people whose lives have been intertwined with his, whose hearts he’s touched, having come together to help him in his greatest time of need… I cry every time.

I cry because I too forget to appreciate all of the wonderful things that make up the life that I am living. I cry because I too spend too much time wishing things were different and not seeing the beauty right in front of me. Most of all, I cry because there is nothing more powerful to me than when we as people find a way to cut through the hard edges of life and show each other that we love each other.

Yesterday was my birthday. Throughout the day as I went off to sneak peeks at Facebook and look at my text messages I continued to find myself overwhelmed with emotion as I took the time to think of each person that reached out to remind me that our lives are connected. In this last year, that has been very difficult for me, it has been the people that I know, whether I have seen them or not, that have helped me remember who I am and who I get to be.

I may not live in a small town or get to see all of the people I care about on a regular basis (or even an irregular basis in some cases) but on this day I do get to take a step back to remember and appreciate that I am living a life that allows me to know, learn with, influence, be influenced by and sometimes even hang out with so many wonderful people.

Today, as I write this, I am flying across the country. Even as I attempt to rid myself of expectation I am filled with anticipation. I do not know what this year will bring. I do not have a plan or a vision as to how it will work itself out. I am scared and I am excited.

Tomorrow I will set out on a hike into the wilderness of the Pacific North West. I have been preparing for this trip for a few months. When I first thought of this trip I thought about it as leaving my life. It was to be a moment to sever myself from the place that I was in, the place that my life had taken me. It was to act as a clean break to make space for something new. When I think about it now I see it simply as a continuation of the life I have always been leading and it is a wonderful life.

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Owning My Sports Mania

Am I a bad person if I root for Matt Harvey to break Chase Utley’s rib with a fastball on Monday night? If I won’t be satisfied unless there is retribution for the take out slide (which should have been ruled an illegal tackle) that turned last night’s game around, does that reflect badly on my character? What does it say about me that I was so amped up and angry after watching the Mets fall apart because of a dirty play, a bad call and another bullpen meltdown that I couldn’t fall asleep?

This is the problem with being a sports fan. By day I am a warm and empathetic educator and social justice activist. But at night I become a blood thirsty maniac who yells at the television and cheers when a grown man intentionally hits another grown man in the back with a 95 mph fastball. By day I facilitate team building workshops where we explore the power of win-win situation and cooperative collaboration. But at night my idea of conflict resolution is a bench-clearing brawl. By day I advocate for restorative justice practices in schools and other institution to replace draconian “no tolerance” policies and other punitive practices that treat young people like criminals and teach them that forgiveness is weak. But at night I believe in retribution, an eye for an eye, a hit batter for a hit batter, and I won’t be satisfied until my shortstop’s leg is avenged.

It is as though there is a break in my personality as soon as sports are involved. Everything I believe about how to behave in the world goes straight out of the window. All of my cooperative instincts and empathetic tendencies are replaced with a cut-throat, competitive mania that can only be satisfied through victory, or at lest excessively yelling at the television when victory isn’t an option.

Some people seem to find this troubling. I have noticed long time friends give me a look of concern upon seeing the sports fan in me come out. It is as though their entire image of me has to be reconfigured to make sense of what they are seeing. It is as though everything they thought they understood about me is suddenly up for reexamination. Their image of me now tainted by this new insight, I can imagine them searching the recesses of their memories to find traces of this “side” of me and wondering how they could have missed the signs.

But the truth is I am completely unashamed of my sports mania. I understand the absurdity of cheering for millionaire athletes because they happen to be wearing a uniform that my childhood self built an arbitrary allegiance to. I hold no illusions that the results of a sporting event are going to have any material consequences in my life, or the world for that matter. I don’t even really believe that my actions while watching a game on television are going to impact the game. But that is part of the magic. With all of the important things going in the world, with all of the actual stresses and challenges and things that I could be getting worked up over, it is quite a relief to have something to care so deeply about that at the end of the day doesn’t actually matter.

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