So the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the team I was supporting, lost to the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the very last over. It’s very uncomfortable, painful even, when you are an onlooker and unable to participate, either by physical effort or verbal coaching.
I thought Nick was getting more and more depressed and angry with on-field tactics. He complained loudly when Shikhar Dhawan chose to bowl Darren Sammy instead of Irfan Pathan. He fumed at Dale Steyn who seemed to have lost his purpose against AB deVilliers. He got ominously quiet as the game entered the death overs.
I had been merrily cheering the boundaries in the first innings, and the wickets in the second. But as the Sunrisers seemed to be losing control of the game, I, too, got quieter and quieter and started withdrawing from the game emotionally. I mean, if they’re going to lose, why get upset? Just stop taking the game seriously and then I won’t feel so bad when the inevitable happens. It’s not like I can actually do anything to change the outcome and I don’t like feeling badly. So why go there?
So instead, Nick and I get into a tense discussion afterwards because he enjoyed the game, and likes expressing his feelings. It turns out that I was worried that his anger and disappointment might spill over onto me, and the more hopeless our team’s position became, the more my stomach knotted.
It’s totally unfair on my part, because he never has and never would take out his feelings on me. It’s old stuff I’m dealing with. It’s being a kid, hearing angry adult voices, and looking for a place to hide in order to stay out of punishment’s range. It’s why loud crowds, even happy ones, make me nervous.
I didn’t play sports growing up, and never learned the art of going all out in keen on-field competition and then resuming off-field friendships, and now, as an adult, do I ever wish I had. It’s one of the reasons I love watching the IPL. Right before my eyes, I see guys who usually compete against each other on their national sides, now working cheerfully together inside a franchise. I can see a player work hard to get the wicket of another, and then applaud the batsman as he gets stylishly hit for six.
After Nick and I vented, and I decided I needed more practice watching sports together, we went on to play an amazingly fierce game of ping pong.
And I won!