The Boston Red Sox won another World Series last night. As a kid from the suburbs of Boston I grew up watching the "cursed" Red Sox lose year after year. I say cursed because throughout my childhood the always negative Boston sports media pushed the narrative that the Red Sox organization had been cursed since the 1920s because they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees. It was called "the curse of the bambino" and it was the primary storyline for decades.
Despite the ubiquitous negativity from the Boston sports media, the Boston fans always believed this year was going to be the year the Red Sox won it all. There was a relentless, undying belief that this year the Red Sox were going to break the curse and win the World Series.
Year after year Boston fans went through the same cycle of hope, belief, and soul crushing defeats. Finally in 2004 the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918 and the city rejoiced. The Sox won again in 2007, 2013, and 2018. The curse was broken and the Boston sports media would need to find new storylines to write.
Why am I writing about this on a yoga blog you ask? I want to share a very important point about athletics that I think we have lost recently.
Irrational belief in an underdog is what makes sports great.
Believing your team can win despite being huge underdogs is wildly exhilarating. For some people, their sports team winning a championship is one of the only sources of hope and inspiration they have in life. Athletes make millions of dollars because sports provide hope and help people escape from the harsh, mundane realities of our society. Many people often question why "spoiled" athletes make so much money. Well wonder no more because I'm telling you why right now. It's because they give people hope in an otherwise very challenging and often cruel world.
Recently it seems like sports fans have much less belief and much more cynicism and negativity. Sports fans have replaced their childlike optimism with bitterness and despair. People seem more focused on the Golden States Warriors "ruining" basketball by being great, how the Patriots cheat, or the latest dirt on an athletes personal life than they are on the good things their teams are doing. As we continue to lose hope in pretty much everything, maybe holding onto the irrational hope we once seemed to have as sports fans isn't a bad thing? Maybe the almost delusional belief that "we can win" is a good thing?
I believe I can win. Say that yourself.
I believe I can win. Say it again.
It feels great doesn't it? Say it a few more times.
I named this blog "Practice Happy" after a particular yoga strategy of checking in with reality and then practicing the opposite. For example, as a sports fan you may know that your team has never won a championship and isn't likely to win one soon. So you become aware of the fact that the odds are not good for your team. But then you still put on the jersey of your favorite player, and watch the games on the edge of your seat because being a fan is fun and having hope in things getting better is a fundamental necessity of humanity.
Maybe you check in and realize you are not very good at public speaking. You still put on your jersey and play as if you are good and as if you can win. It's a yoga thing and I'll be diving a lot more into it soon. For now, try to be more like a sports fan. Simply believe you can win because it's more fun than the alternative.
And when your team finally does win that championship, and vindicates years of your belief, it is the sweetest feeling in the world.