There are a lot of things that I find to be quite interesting about the sports world.
From the insane height of the pedestal athletes are put on to the production values of every televised sporting event, it's a veritable circus of broadcasters and players. To me, though, the most intriguing aspect of the sports industry today is the fans.
It amazes me, at times, the range of emotions that are tied to a fan's mental arsenal during the span of an athletic event. It's also interesting to see those individuals in the stands think buying a $35 ticket entitles them to do or say anything they want to an athlete.
Now, I'll be the first person to say that athletes are, for the most part, overpaid. Anyone who thinks a guy that plays baseball 162 days out of the year is worth $27 million per season (I'm talking to you A-Rod) is more valuable than the average Texas teacher, who makes just above $40,000 a year, really has their priorities out of line.
But looking at the audience sports stars must constantly perform for, it's a wonder many of them would choose such a glaring profession.
For instance, I'm sure most of you will remember the 2004 "Basketbrawl" that occurred at the Palace of Auburn Hills, home of the NBA team Detroit Pistons, after a scuffle between players led to a fan throwing a cup of beer at Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest. A near-riot broke out after Artest and other Pacers players jumped into the stands to confront the fans and ended up fighting.
The night ended with an estimated nine people being hurt, none with serious injuries.
That event is a perfect example of fans who feel entitled to treat athletes like dirt. It also shows what can happen when a player snaps in a moment of anger, a very human response for many of us.
On the other side of the coin, there are other sets of fans who are so engrossed in their team's success or failure that it takes a physical and mental toll on them.
I have an uncle who recently watched the near upset of the Dallas Cowboys (12-1) at the hands of the Detroit Lions (6-7). The game ended with a game-winning drive by Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo that helped Dallas come away with a one-point victory.
When I saw my uncle after the game, during which my Pittsburgh Steelers were getting manhandled by the New England Patriots, he told me his stomach was still hurting from the Cowboys' great escape. Imagine what it must have been like during the past decade as the Cowboys went through four head coaches and eight quarterbacks, the low point being Ryan Leaf, before last year's resurgence.
My brother can barely eat anything if a Steelers game ends in a loss for the black and gold. I just shake my head and hope the team rights the ship for the next week. In the case of the Patriots fiasco, I'm just hoping the Steelers can keep their division lead with the surprising Cleveland Browns creeping up behind them.
But again, back to my point. It's amazing to see how invested, both financially and emotionally, people can get in their respective teams. That's how the NBA has grown into a global game and the NFL is on the verge of following in its footsteps, having played in London Oct. 28.
But behind it all, none of it would be what it is without the obsession and craziness that is the sports fan. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to check the status of my fantasy team.