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The Question that Haunts Every Sports Fan: Why Do I Care?

I ask myself some iteration of this question on a regular basis. Why do I care? As a sports fan, this question haunts me. Should I care? Why should I care?  Do I care? Do I know how to not care? Maybe this resonates with you, too.

It is so much easier not to care. Why? Caring asks something of us. It means we put our feelings on the line. It means we will have emotional highs and despondent lows. Caring means we take both the good with the bad and yet, I've lived long enough to know life isn't fair. Caring is an equal opportunity endeavor.

One could argue there are causes, people, and events worth caring about. Others, not so much. I don't disagree. Poverty, child abuse, a just immigration policy, the environment—all imminent, vital, real world problems, real time causes—each one worth caring about. Notre Dame's loss to Ohio State, Will Aaron Rodgers return to football? or Should the Giants fire both their manager and GM? No lives lost. No threats to world peace and yet these weigh in heavy on my care-o-meter. I don't know that I have enough in me to determine how much I should care about caring! However, I have found that caring about someone and something has served taught me quite a bit about myself, what I value and why. Keep caring. Here are a few thoughts on why...

Rodgers took flak for his old school headphones.

This past week, I started what I knew would be a very long work day with an early morning workout. I go to the gym from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. I hop on the treadmill for 10 minutes and then lift for 45. I try to stretch for five before I head out the door. However, within that 45 minutes of weight training, I know that usually 5 to 10 of them are accounted for by talking to friends and folks who are among the morning crew. These interactions buoy my spirits. I love checking in with others and getting their hot takes on last night's game, their progress on the no fat challenge and more. 

While they are not something that I ever considered "a given" these conversations aren't as organic or spontaneous as they once were.  Why? headphones. So many people are dialed into their music or podcast, that I have to make more effort to get another person's attention. Don't get me wrong, I know that many people workout to clear their head /enact some self care, but we share space. Are we not in this together...even when we are alone? I think I have to work on accepting an a new answer: clearly we are not. Furthermore,  instead of a simple exchange of words between reps, one must pause, pull out their ear pods, and listen. I feel like I am inconveniencing someone in just trying to connect. I think connection is important. It's the first step toward building a relationship, one that can become a friendship. We all need those!

Headphones are not and won't go away. I know that some people will remove them, but I do care about what's being lost. Should I?

Even after the loss, the team joins the student body in singing the Alma Mater.

I can't help but care because I fear how much more inside of ourselves we have become as a society. I don't know if I'm better by closing myself off to others. Again, I understand that some people need to be inside themselves in order to be present at other times, but at what cost?

Half way through that workout, one man was spotting his friend when he buckled and nearly dropped the weight. He yelled out "Jesus F***ing Christ!" It was a scary moment. I turned to make sure he was okay and saw that no one in the gym reacted. People around them didn't even flinch, and this didn't sit well with me. Again—Why? Why do I care? 

It's a bad habit and I'm not going to say I haven't done it—but taking the Lord's name in vain goes against God's commands. I value this commandment. I believe to honor someone or something is to respect their name. God's name is holy and worth reverence. The inclusion of the expletive is and was just too much...but that was coupled by the fact no one checked to see if this man was okay because they were dialed into their headphones. Something's off...

I left the gym and headed to work. On my way into the main building, I took note of just how many students were wearing headphones. I've always believed "Good Morning" is one of the easiest things to say to another person. To me, it's energizing. Even when I don't want to, when I acknowledge the presence of another person by greeting them with the day, I swear there's an endorphin release. Headphones or not, there are always people for whom the day is not good. But minus those ear buds, there's a much better chance we will catch what's worth hearing. Maybe I'm wrong.

This morning, I woke up with an emotional hangover. As a Notre Dame football fan, I have been here MANY times. I also know, I will be here again. And yet, none of this rational thinking lessens the blow. Nor does my question: Why do I care? Should I? How can I not care?

Caring for someone or something is a step toward love, real love. To care for another person takes time. It is rooted in relationship. We care most deeply for the people and places that matter to us, to whom we are connected. To live a life devoid of caring is safe and its secure. For some people and at sometimes, that might be necessary. However, for most of us who we are and what we value is revealed in moments like these.

SO for what it's worth: Thank you to the University of Notre Dame, Coach Freeman and the football team for putting up such a fight. Thank you for being a program that I am proud to support. You played SO tough (from the mouth of Coach Day). I wanted this win for the program and to continue what has already been a great season. It was an exciting game and we have other big ones yet to play. Thank you for giving me so much to care about.

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