What seems like a million years ago, I was sitting in the FSU student union reading Sports Illustrated wondering how the Seminoles were going to do that year. As it turns out, we did all right. But that photographer captured young me in my youth, sporting my blacktops and backwards ballcap, obsessing over football. Those were much happier times – or so I thought. The current state of FSU football, however, isn’t so hot right now.
I was talking to some people earlier this month about how my obsession with football effected my mental well being in a very negative way. Despite me not playing the actual sport, I would embrace team victories as if they were my own. If my team lost, I would fall into a depressive state. I couldn’t just be disappointed, it was as if someone close to me died! And this ritualistic obsession stayed with me for decades. After going through years of therapy and discovering meditation, I’ve been able to establish better habit forming processes, discover health boundaries, and stop my obsessive behavior. The end result is that I’m able to look at sporting events, especially the dumpster fire of my alma mater, and not be emotionally wrecked for months.
I look at that experience as something that crippled me. I bought into a brand and pinned my joy around it. Following Seminole football was something of a religion – which is sad as hell if you think about it. My only sense of spirituality was what other people did on a football field. I’m so grateful that I was able to discover mindfulness and serenity, it feels like a freaking superpower that allowed me to find peace with myself instead of trying to satiate through external stimulation. Unfortunately, I know that my problem was not unique. I grew up in the south, where football is not just bragging rights – its a way of life! You go to the Walmart in any southern state, and your favorite sports team is probably the first thing you see. And if it isn’t then that manager should be fired! The culture surrounding football can feed into the all-encompassing behavior. I cognizant that others haven’t found separation. I would suggest that there is no better time then the present!