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5 ways being a Boston sports fan is like being an addict

Posted by Alex Pearlman  December 4, 2011 05:46 PM

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boston red sox.jpgBy Rachel Pennellatore

Sports are practically life here in Boston; fans are known nationwide for their incredible dedication. Bostonians cheer for and defend their beloved teams with fervor so intense as to sometimes -- OK, oftentimes -- cross over into obnoxiousness, leading fans from elsewhere to question our sanity and/or sobriety.

Being a true-blue Boston fan is quite similar to having a raging substance abuse problem: Glory can be as habit-forming as any drug out there, and our hometown heroes certainly know how to keep us all strung out on the drama and chasing the high that victory brings. Here are five signs you or a loved one may have an addiction.

Extreme emotional highs and lows. Boston has come to be a city of champions. With each of our “Big Four” teams bringing a title or two to the city in recent years, we've gotten used to a certain standard of living. But every action has an equal and opposite reaction, as they say: For example, that on-top-of-the-world feeling we had after winning the Stanley Cup was shortly thereafter dulled by the rock-bottom disaster of blowing the MLB playoffs amid rumors of clubhouse drinking. And so the vicious cycle begins anew.

Mental health issues. Boston fans most commonly suffer from delusions of grandeur that manifest themselves in an overwhelming urge to proclaim that the Yankees suck, apropos to the situation or not. Trying to reason with such a Boston fan (telling them that they're actually at a basketball game, for example) will inevitably lead them to conclude that since the Yankees always suck, they fail to see your point. On the other end of the spectrum, we also encounter paranoia and superstition: Bruins players and fans alike refused to shave their "playoff beards," thus contributing to the 2011 Stanley Cup win, and "The Curse of the Bambino" haunted the Red Sox for 86 years after trading Babe Ruth.

Physical signs. Boston fans prioritize watching the game above all else and take losses especially hard. Scientists have proven depression, change in appetite or sleep patterns, mood swings, tremors, and persistent sweating are all caused by anxiety linked to extended Boston losing streaks. Fine -- that's not entirely true, but there’s certainly no lack of evidence that a team slump puts us all in one of our own.

Defense and denial. Boston fans and only Boston fans are allowed to talk smack about our teams. It’s fine for a Bostonian to complain about losing a 10-game winning streak in an overtime shootout, but hear anyone else crack a joke of their own, and -- excuse me, are you the defending champions? I didn’t think so. We also refuse to accept that there is even the remote possibility we might lose a game until we see it printed in the paper the next day. Even then we optimistically sigh that we’ll get ‘em next time.

Resentment and relapse. Boston teams are always raising and dashing our hopes and dreams (see "extreme emotional highs and lows"). We make all sorts of vows and bargain away our souls to whichever deity we’re partial to if we could just win this game, make the playoffs, or sign that player we absolutely need for our defensive line. And after another devastating loss, we swear we’ve learned our lesson and won’t watch next year -- but in the end we know the truth: We could never quit them.

Being a die-hard Boston fan is for life; unfortunately, there is no cure for athletically induced insanity, not even more cowbell. Welcome to Boston!

Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr)

About Rachel -- I'm a tiny gal with big ideas who's always on the move. One day I'm going to use my vast amount of otherwise useless trivia knowledge to beat Ken Jennings' Jeopardy score. Likes: hula hooping, all things involving the 80's, delicious martinis, sunshine, proper grammar, baby animals. Dislikes: math, being cold, spiders, most vegetables, things in places I can't reach.

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This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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