Complicated Fanaticism

“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” [1 John 1:5b]

This is comforting.

The things that we love are so often tainted by sin, but in God, we have found something, someone, who is worthy of our adoration through and through.

Most everything else is significantly more complicated.

I have been a diehard Pittsburgh Pirates fan all of my life, which if you have followed baseball at all over the last 35 years, gives you some insight into how resilient my fandom is. Up until a few years ago, the Pirates were mired (not often the word mired becomes cliched) in the worst losing streak in professional sports history. Over these last few years, there has been some light. The thing that was so hard to root for over the past two decades had finally become something that could be loved without shame.

Given the reality of free agency and player movement in modern sports, the common advice is to “root for the laundry”, and the laundry has been easier to root for today than it has been since I was 11.


So, what happens when one of the guys who wear that laundry may have soiled it?

On Tuesday of this week, a story broke on Pittsburgh third baseman  Jung Ho Kang and an investigation into a potential sexual assault. The words “may have”, “investigation” and “potential” are the key words for why this is so complicated. If you remove those, the player is likely removed as well… in handcuffs. If it turns out not to be true, then the player can move on, and so can the fans.

In the meantime, I am left to ponder whether I can follow a team where I may (or may not) be cheering for a rapist.

As far as I can tell there is no well-reasoned answer here on how to approach it.

This is obviously a much less important issue than the one that Kang himself is going through or that of the woman from whom the accusations arise, but it is the one that I have to deal with.

Pirates baseball is probably my longest running abusive relationship, so it’s not one that I take lightly, but it’s also one that I think I may have to take a step back from until some further information comes out.

It’s something that twenty years of losing couldn’t shake my loyalty in, but something that one horrid accusation has now made me uncomfortable supporting.

We have gotten used to some pretty dark shades of gray, but the specter of black is enough for me to keep my distance.

“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

I think I’ll just spend some time there for a while.


5 thoughts on “Complicated Fanaticism

  1. i haven’t given it much thought, and maybe i should, but the reason i occasionally wear my Steelers #7 Rapistberger baseball cap is because it’s the only cap i have, and it fits. . maybe i should toss it in the dumpster and find a new hat..

    fwiw, as a lifelong Steelers fan i’ve always been able to support the team while at the same time censuring some of the bad characters they’d infrequently hire.. i found i can at once be for the Steelers and at the same time against the thuggish players.. and still enjoy the game..

    • For me football took a backseat to a lot of other things around the time that stuff came out about Roethlisberger (just coincidence), go the point that I hadn’t even heard about the stuff with James Harrison until it came up in relation with the larger rash of domestic violence episodes. It’s not that I didn’t care, but it didn’t really effect me the way that this one does.

      I can still root for the team, but for the time being it will probably be from afar (box scores and whatnot) so there isn’t the situation 3-5 times a game where I am confronted with the question of actively rooting for him.

      I mean, it might all be BS, but for right now it makes me uncomfortable enough to disengage.

  2. I hate sports and since I can’t relate to sports at all, I want to tell you a story. This story, for privacy purposes, is definitely not about me. Remember that because if you claim it is, I will deny it lol. A certain woman I know works for a company and makes decent money doing next to nothing. But she found out through the grapevine the owner of her company was soliciting gay sex from Craigslist. She tried to ignore it because whatever, doesn’t really affect me…I mean her. Another year went by and another shocking revelation: he was now emailing 17 year old teen boys for oral sex. This owner is in his 60s and married. Apparently he has too much $$ and time on his hands. But what would I know? This story isn’t about me, remember? But now this woman wants to quit this job but needs the money. But the whole thing is rather sickening. Professional business man is using work resources for homosexual escapades with 17 year old boys. How can she reconcile? Does she quit her job? How can she work for a company helping them to get more money knowing it’s probably used for such horrible things? I don’t know! But this story had nothing to do with sports and nothing to do with me 😉

    • Me personally, I wouldn’t do something that would significantly hurt myself or my family, but I would definitely have one foot of the door, and be looking for something else.

      There have been some aspects of my job and company that have made me uncomfortable… thankfully the worst of which is no longer an issue, but nothing so foul that I would feel a need to leave. I’ll just leave it at that since it is easy too easy to find out who I am and who I work for.

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