>Mea Culpa

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To this day I still think the only reason the Chicago Bulls won the 1992 NBA Championship was because of one person – me. Forget about the talents of Michael Jordan. Or the strategy of Phil Jackson. Argue with me if you will, but the one reason the Bulls won their second championship was clearly and unequivocally because of
me.

Isn’t it funny how sports fans think there’s a direct correlation between the outcome of their sports team’s games and the fans themselves. Some fans wear the exact same shirt every game day. Others have the same pre-game ritual or “lucky” seat. I know a guy who swears the Jets went on their winning run last season because he switched his beers from Heineken to Heineken Light. Call it superstition – or just some silly fan’s desire to inject themselves into a game they have no role in – but some sports fans have this sixth sense that their own actions tend to directly impact a game.

Take, for example, me. The only plausible cause of the Bulls pulling out a victory against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 6 was because I chose to lie down on my stomach atop my parents’ bed instead of my traditional pose of lying on my back to watch the game on their tube TV. Yes, after 18 years I still feel deep down that I somehow contributed to Jordan sinking those six three pointers. Had I chosen to lie down another way, well, let’s just say the beginning of an era may never have come to be.


But the point of this blog is not to talk about sporting events that occurred nearly two decades ago (man, I’m getting old…), but to talk about events of last week. Just as I feel I had a hand in a great NBA victory, I feel I am the direct reason why the USA soccer team loss its round-of-16 match in this year’s World Cup. Yes, sadly, I take full blame.

On such a fantastic wave of victory after winning its final game of the group stage, Sam’s Army entered last week’s game against Ghana with solid chances of pulling out a W. But, I had to go and screw things up.

You see, every other game the USA team has played during this World Cup I had watched in the privacy of my home, office desk (during work hours) or hotel room (I was traveling at the latter end of the group stage and during the round of 16). While in different settings, the common denominator was watching the game in privacy or with an intimate crowd of two other people. Then, I stupidly decided to watch the USA-Ghana game at the bar with some friends. Who invited more friends. And that multiplied into dozens of friends. Just that small change of venue and crowd made all the difference. My bad!

In reality – not Nila’s alternative universe – I don’t think my actions or any other sports fans’ are Steve Bartman-like with massive repercussions. Still, I think every fan wants to be a part of the game. I’ve never played an NBA game in my life, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking I can somehow sway a game or two. That’s what makes sports so exciting to me: You don’t have to pick up a ball, step onto the field, or lace up your boots to feel like you’re somehow a part of your team’s roster. Somehow there’s a jersey with your name on it anyways.
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