I am a fan of the New York Giants.
I believe that they can win every game they play. I hope that they will win every game that they play. I get emotionally involved in their games to such a degree that my heart pounds and I get short of breath when they face a critical play in the fourth quarter. I yell at the tv, though I know that they can’t hear me. When something goes wrong, I will punch things and curse. When they win, I will stay up late to watch highlights of a game I just watched.
I will re-arrange my schedule so as to be able to watch their games as they happen. If I can’t manage that, I will go to great lengths to keep abreast of what’s happening. I’ve listened to entire games on my car radio on a distant AM station, making the announcers voices dim and staticky, like ghosts calling the 1958 NFL Championship game.
When they play on Fox, I will turn down the sound and listen to the radio call, because I believe that Darryl Johnston (a former Dallas Cowboy) is biased against the Giants, and goes out of his way to run them down. I will do this even though there is a ten-second delay between the video and the audio, meaning that plays aren’t described until after they happen.
I can and will describe great plays from their Super Bowl championships (XXI, XV, XLII). I can and will describe great plays from regular-season games played during losing seasons.
I have no rational reason to be this invested in the Giants. From a strictly logical point of view, I probably ought to be a Bills fan, as I grew up closer to Buffalo than New Jersey. My father was a Giants fan, though, and his father before him, so I am a Giants fan.
I will do all that I can to pass this fandom on to SteelyKid. Literally from the cradle I have been telling her that the Giants are great, and that the Cowboys are the NFL embodiment of everything that is dark and twisted in the American psyche.
There is absolutely no rational reason for any of this. But it’s something I do anyway, because it’s a part of who I am.
Does this make me less of a scientist (other than the decrease in productivity caused by blocking out several hours on 16-20 Sundays (plus the occasional Monday or Thursday) a year)? Have I somehow compromised my scientific objectivity by choosing to be so affected by the fortunes of one team playing what is (let’s face it) a pretty arbitrary and faintly ridiculous game? Is my ability to separate out what happens during the football season from what I do in my day job indicative of some sort of mental defect?
Or is this just one of those things that people do, that make us more interesting to talk to than robots?