With the Super Bowl here once again it's impossible to not think about sports. Most men I've dated have had a visceral attachment to a team, or a sport, or a player and perhaps by coincidence or by design, many of them are from Chicago. So I have endured season after season of hopeful yet always disappointed Cubs fans and loyal yet always disgruntled Bears fans. I won't even go into the Bulls or Blackhawks. I never understood why grown intelligent men yelled at the TV, wore team jerseys even at home and truly felt anguish over a loss like it was their own puppy that died. Or conversely felt proud of a win, like their energy and will alone helped propel the team to victory. I have had coutless sterotypical arguments with boyfriends about being a "football widow" and I just didn't get sports fanaticism until my ex-husband said something brilliant, "Reality shows are your sports." According to Nielsen ratings, reality shows are sports for many other women as well. They are filled with protagonists, villians, competition, desire and drama.
I watch every episode of Project Runway, pick a designer to root for at the beginning of the season, and hang on every scrap of fabric, misplaced scissors, and runway show. I am outraged when the judges vote the wrong person off and hate when my pick isn't getting the kudos he or she deserves. If my favorite contestant is booted early it doesn't make me turn the show off since I'm already so invested that I continue to watch to see who the final winner will be. I watch The Amazing Race year after year and play along at home, deciding what detour I would take (the longer but predictable challenge or the fast but precarious one) how I would best literally find a needle in a haystack and if given the opportunity would I play dirty and steal a cab from the team right on my heels. I sometimes catch myself yelling at the players, "The clue is right there! Behind you!" When watching So You Think You Can Dance I am amazed at the skill level and athleticism of the performers and I leap off the couch when the judges give my favorite a standing ovation.
Different reality shows air at different times of the year so like baseball season, basketball season and football season, I have seasons of my own. American Idol season being the most important of all. Tuesday nights my boyfriend is an "Idol Widower" and this year he has actually taken to watching the show with me.
During "Hollywood Week" I pick a singer to root for, join an Idol pool, watch with baited breath, and recap my favorite moments with my friends. I sometimes even pause and replay the best performances. I was genuinely sad when my favorites Chris Daughtry from season 5 and Adam Lambert from season 8 were robbed of the win and now understand just a little bit what it must feel like to be a Cubs fan. The injustice!
Today when the Super Bowl is on and my boyfriend paces around the TV, shouts at players, and feels the rush of elation and disappointment I can now not only empathize, but also sympathize. Go team go!