Kobe Bryant And The Importance Of Fandom

Kobe Bryant didn’t play for the Yankees. Kobe Bryant didn’t stake his claim as one of the greatest athletes of all time through baseball. And yes, this indeed is a Yankees-centric blog, but there are moments that come along from time to time that transcend a singular sport. There are times that invite all of us to reminisce, ponder and explore the way we think about things. The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, along with eight other victims, is one of those times.

I often wonder why we care so much about sports. Why do we invest time, money and energy into an industry that doesn’t even know our names? What are the reasons for hitching our wagons to athletes that we will never truly know on a personal level? Why do we make ourselves vulnerable to the emotional roller coaster sports is known to take us on?

The simple reason is joy. Sports fans experience an inordinate amount of disappointment. There are far more bad times than good. But there remains a willingness to endure pain and hardship because we know that ever elusive moment of unfiltered and uncompromising joy is around the corner. There are very few industries that illicit the sheer happiness that comes along with a great sports experience. It can lift our spirits and brighten our days. We crave that feeling and when it comes there are few things better in life.

We tend to idolize those athletes that can repeatedly deliver those moments. It is why we love Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera and Aaron Judge and Kobe Bryant. Outside of being tremendous athletes, they are all able to create moments that validate our fandom. They help us pay off our heavy investments in sports. We give thanks by immortalizing them.

It is important to note that Kobe, along with many of our sports heroes, was not perfect. When we look back on his life, we must acknowledge the inexcusable actions as much as we cherish the good times. There are times our athletes will disappoint us. We must be willing to accept that comes with the territory of cheering on flawed humans. We hope those low points pave the way for a road to redemption and it appears Kobe was heading down that path.

While it is true that devastating tragedies like this one remind us to hug our loved ones tighter, it should also remind us to cheer even harder. We should invest even more. Our commitment to feeling that joy should grow. Sports are truly a gift to cherish. As we get closer to the 2020 Yankees season, we shouldn’t limit our passion or hopes for the team. Life and seasons continue to fly by in a blur. It would behoove us to appreciate each one as if it could be our last.

Everyone on the Views From 314ft staff wants to send our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Kerry Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Ara Zobayan. May you all Rest In Peace.

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5 Comments

  1. Ray Fuego

    I have never been hit hard by a celebrity/athlete death until this one. I’ve been watching Kobe since I was 6 years old, and although I am a die hard Knicks fan, Kobe was always been one of my favorite players. He wasn’t always perfect, but his dedication and resolve was inspiring to me. I was looking forward to him potentially becoming a coach either in the NBA or WNBA, and following the growth of his daughter Gianna as an athlete and professional. When I got the news I felt a huge knot in my stomach and couldn’t believe it, I still can’t. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those who were lost.

  2. RetroRob

    Nice write up. Randy. Sports is about joy, but it’s the pain of losing that makes up appreciate the winning when it arrives.

  3. Mungo

    Kobe’s passing is tragic, but less now for Kobe and Gianna who are gone, but specifically for their family who must deal with the pain of their sudden loss, pick up the pieces, and move on with their lives without a young husband and a father who they thought would be with them on life’s journey for the next fifty years. You can’t plan for the unexpected. All you can do is deal with it. I have no opinion about Kobe’s past. That probably places me in the minority. I wasn’t there; I only know what was reported, which means I don’t know anything. Whatever happened that night, I hope that he used it as a springboard to be a better person. There are strong indications that was the case.

    One of the more difficult aspects of human nature is dealing with is the belief that a good man, or a good woman, is always a good man or a good woman. When we find out they weren’t, people deal with it in different ways. Many try to convince themselves it wasn’t true, while many convict 100% of the person. I don’t do either because I just don’t know. What I do know is the tragedy is not those who died, it is the grieving families and the grieving friends.

    I’ve read much about Kobe and his daughter. I’ve read much about John and Kerry Altobelli. I’ve read about the pilot. I’ve also gone out of my way to try and read about Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and Payton Chester. I never knew them, I never will, but they deserve to be remembered too, if not for them, but for their families who are dealing with the same pain as the families of the Bryant’s and the Altobelli’s.

  4. Brian M

    Kobe was a great competitor and athlete and I will always remember him as such. Outside of basketball though, I think people will rightfully have different opinions on him. He may have been on the road to redeeming himself since that incident but countless other people have been condemned by society forever for lesser offenses. I feel for his family, Kobe and Gianna died but the rest of their family are the ones that have to live with it.

  5. DJ Lemeddardhieu

    I’m still deeply saddened by the news, Randy. Neither Dad nor I has left the house since we heard. Thank God Papa John’s delivers or we’d starve. We were never Laker fans but always had great respect for Kobe. He was one of the all time greats. He wasn’t as great as Jordan but he came about as close as anyone until Lebron came around. We always enjoyed watching those Shaq and Kobe teams. He died so young just when he was going to start the 2nd half of his life post basketball. And one of his daughters died as well. So tragic and sad. My thoughts and prayers go out to their families.

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