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Enjoying the moment

Baltimore Ravens v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Human beings are a very interesting type of beast - we’ve evolved to a point in which a society has been built up around us that, in theory, should allow us to be comfortable and enjoy our lives for the most part. Sure there are bills, family responsibilities, and other trivial issues that occupy our time on a day to day basis, but the reality of the situation is that a lot of people in the developed world right now are blessed with the opportunity to sit back and smell the coffee.

This should especially be true of those who follow sports. Whether it’s a temporary get-away from something more serious or just the love of competition, there are very few things that indicate just how lucky we are than the fact that we can so heavily invest ourselves into entertainment like sports.

And in a way, it’s pretty much the ultimate type of escape. Drama, comedy, sorrow, pride, and so many other elements and emotions are elicited from following a team week-to-week - at it’s worst it can be blind tribalism, and at it’s best, it’s pure art.

It’s a long held belief that art and life imitate one another, and as a sports fan myself, it’s hard not to notice when this happens in some form or another. One fairly glaring example is the inability of the enthusiast to enjoy the moment, which is maybe the most basic and relatable phenomenon in life on a human level.

New England Patriots v Baltimore Ravens
John Harbaugh and the Ravens are definitely enjoying themselves after jumping out to a 6-2 first half record, following a rocky 2-2 start.
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Especially as you get older, the time you have to stop and think about how great some of the more simple (or even more grandiose) aspects of life can get lost on you a bit if you allow yourself to be swallowed up in the mania that surrounds you. Whether it’s trying to earn good grades, the relentless grind of a 9-5, or just getting by on more basic levels, appreciating life’s blessings and good moments is an art in and of itself.

This is the conundrum of the human who’s just trying to get by, and of the sports fan who’s constantly attempting to make sense of where their team ranks in relation to others, That is, looking around to see how everyone else is doing so you can judge yourself against them, or always looking back or forward because you’re not feeling safe or satisfied with where you currently are. It’s a truly interesting dynamic in that sports are supposed to be the ultimate escape, but also makes sense when you see sport as a microcosm for life and a way of making sense of it rather than just some sort of getaway.

Sorry if I lost you a bit there, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot since Sunday night when Lamar Jackson and the Ravens took it to the undefeated Patriots in a 17 point primetime whopping. That is, how lucky we are as a fanbase right now, and how we really should try and enjoy the moment.

New England Patriots v Baltimore Ravens
Jackson cemented himself as a true MVP candidate in Baltimore’s win over New England, the first one the Ravens have ever had at quarterback this far into the season
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Since Sunday, I’ve seen a lot of positives about the team from both inside the Ravens supporters circle and out, but there’s also been some negativity in several senses as well. Mainly, I’ve noticed two things:

  • A retaliatory receipt gathering effort in which any and every pundit who was wrong about this team (and specifically Lamar Jackson) are being brought to the mat to answer for their perceived indiscretions - I’ve mainly noticed this from (obviously) the Ravens fan circles on social, and I’m guilty of it myself
  • The second one I’ve noticed comes from outside of our fanbase, and to a large degree from those who are currently being dunked on for being incorrect about the Ravens’ quarterback - now in an effort to either rationalize or deflect (or both) the fact that they were wrong, they turn to the prediction that Lamar’s going to get hurt with his playing style, or that what he’s doing isn’t sustainable in the long term, and other reasons as well (the discussion surrounding Jackson has been no stranger to serious goalpost movement in 2019).

As for the receipt pulling on the media, it’s a totally natural reaction and is perfectly fine to do here and there in good fun. However, my advice would be to not get too caught up in it; Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” To me this is the perfect quote for this situation; it’s totally fine to let these people know that they’ve been sorely wrong up to this point, but don’t allow it to completely consume you - you may miss Lamar making a serious run for MVP over the next eight weeks if so.

I’d also say that you definitely don’t want the opinions of those in the second category to dominate your frame of mind either, whether the sustainability does concern you or not. Michael Crawford put it perfectly on Twitter the other day:

I couldn’t have said this better myself, and it’s something I’m going to try and live by in this second half of the season. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance on Sunday night and captured a moment that while brief, pretty much perfectly encapsulates what I’m talking about:

Obviously it’s a short video because I was pretty swept up into the moment and had trouble fully processing what was going on, but it’s one that I’m simply just happy to have been a part of looking back at it. M&T bank Stadium hasn’t been as rocking as that night in a long time, and it all culminated in Orlando Brown Jr. pulling Jackson over the goal line for the second score of the night that elicited the MVP chants from the crowd, something I wasn’t sure I’d ever experience as a Ravens fan.

Perhaps my favorite TV show of all time is HBO’s “The Sopranos,” and a line I often think about from it is from the finale of the first season when the titular family of the show are having dinner after being brought together at a local restaurant to take shelter from a severe thunderstorm. In addressing his children, the show’s main character Tony makes a salient point on what I’m talking about here:

“Someday soon, you’re gonna have families of your own. And if you’re lucky, you’ll remember the little moments like this... that were good.”

The paradox in this quote is the fact that it was spoken by a fictional sociopathic mob boss who’s exact inability to do what he’s talking about led to problems for him time and time again, but also in the fact that the actor who portrayed him (the great James Gandolfini) passed away suddenly at age 51 in 2013. There’s some beautiful irony in the fact that someone as beloved as Gandolfini was so perfectly able to portray a flawed character that taught us a lot about what incessant negativity and short-sightedness can do to the human spirit.

Without delving too much further into quotes or pop culture references that address life on a grander scale, all I’ll say is try to enjoy the experience of Lamar Jackson and the 2019 Ravens while things are going well.

Get in your shots on those who doubted, and argue with those who continue to do so if you must, but above all, look forward to what should be a very fun second half of this season.

Sports are supposed to fun right? So when they’re going well, enjoy the moment.