Have you ever tried to explain to a non-sports-watching friend or family member why you love sports so much? It's always much more difficult than you think it should be. Because it's fun? Because it's exciting? Because it's entertaining? Because it squeezes so many life lessons into a nice little nutshell? Well, yeah, all of that. But that still doesn't quite get there, does it?
I think it starts as "mere" entertainment with "mere" in quotes because even that is a non-trivial thing. But sports evolves from "mere" entertainment into something else altogether when we choose sides and pick teams with which to identify. To "live and die" with, so to speak. Because when we do that, we're no longer in it just to observe someone else's success or failure. We're there to experience them ourselves. We're devoted to the collaborative (or at least the vicarious) pursuit of happy moments and all of the hardship, adversity, and struggle in between them. In fact, there seems to be an inverse correlation between the misery of the Stuff Inbetween and the joy of the Happy Moments. The sun shines brighter after a rain, right?
When you choose sides, you invest in the team with emotion, the coin of the realm. When you really go all in, you begin to use the "we" word, and we begin to identify with our guys. Those with a long-term investment strategy ride out the down cycles and wait for the payoff.
And when it comes, it is glorious.
That's why particularly poignant team celebrations give me goosebumps and make me smile and laugh and tear up all at the same time. Why do I turn into a giggling schoolgirl from watching grown men bounce up and down together in celebration after a particularly satisfying victory? Because I've also felt their misery as they lay face down in the end zone, shielding their eyes from the intrusion of cameras, after a particularly disappointing defeat.
It is surprisingly difficult to find video of post-game celebrations for the football team. I don't know why, although it may have something to do with how it can turn into a media storm like it did when Derek Dooley celebrated the 2011 win over Vanderbilt. I did find this one of a locker room celebration of a win over Alabama, though:
Heh. Even the camera tears up. ;-)
And I really enjoyed this one from when Tee Martin set an NCAA record (start it at 9:11 or so):
If you can find any other football celebrations, link to them in the comments below. For now, though, here's a couple of bonus videos, classics from the basketball team (queue the first one up at 4:49):
Bob Kesling says to Bruce Pearl in that last video that "It will be a moment you'll remember for the rest of your life." That's what we're after. That's why we watch sports.