A reading from the book of the prophet Jordan

Santo Caruso

“…And his Airness gave unto Santo these five commandments, written upon the back of a Chicago Bulls playbook (because it only had one play, give the ball to Michael), for being a true fan:

1) Thou shalt not have any other teams besides the closest available franchise.

Interpretation: Here we see that Jordan’s first commandment is the most sacred, and yet is the most oft violated. Have a friend who rocks a Yankees hat even though he is from Dover? Or your girlfriend roots for the Patriots because Tom Brady is cute? Or worst of all, a ‘Niners fan from New Jersey who likes the team just because “they were so good when I was growing up.” This sin is both mortal and punishable by the darkest circle of sports hell, being a Kansas City Royals fan.

2) Thou shalt not be a false idol.

Interpretation: Another critical law connected in part to the first commandment. The spirit of this is that a fan cannot abandon his team, nor its players, in their time of greatest need. Those that booed Donovan McNabb for the false idol Ricky Williams cannot jump on the bandwagon when D-Mac is dropping bombs on the NFL and Williams is smoking Js in Canada. Bandwagon jumpers are not quite as bad as those who choose a team based on success, because at least they were born into the team. Still, these fans’ faith is weak, and they are too afraid of being hurt to give themselves unconditionally to the spirit of fandom. Their damnation shall be spent in purgatory, also known as the time between the end of the NHL and NBA playoffs and the start of the football season, when there are no bandwagons for them to ride upon.

3) Thou shalt not abuse a real fan in his or her hour of darkness, because someday that hour shalt be upon thee.

Interpretation: It has become quite fashionable to trash-talk a friend who has recently experienced a loss which means more to him or her than the win meant to you. No team wins every game. Remember, outside of a few eternal losers (The Royals, Cardinals and Hawks immediately come to mind), there is a sinusoidal wave to how a team fares. There is no reason to kick a man while he is down, because eventually you too will be down. Karma is a rough mistress. The punishment for this sin is a lifetime spent watching ones rival win championships, though I’d rather dump a beer on them.

4) Thou shalt root in reality, live in reality and only play in fantasy.

Interpretaion: One of the commandments added during the Council of Wrigley, the proliferation of this sin led many fanatics to claim the sports strikes and steroid abuse of the ’90s were a warning from MJ to a corrupt world.

Fantasy sports are an extension of gambling, and therefore completely acceptable on all levels. The amount of time one devotes to such endeavors is completely up to his or her predisposition. With that said, anyone who would cheer for a fantasy player against his or her own team, or a fantasy player whose performance is detrimental to the one teams chances of making the playoffs/winning a title, has violated a sacred ideal, that on-field performance trumps any off-field activities. The joys of winning a game in the land of the real is far more tangible and beneficial for a much larger group than any stupid points scored in a fantasy league. The punishment for this sin is spending all of eternity being crushed by Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Dawkins, while NFL players scream at you for blowing their fantasy team.

5) Thou shalt never give up on one’s team.

Interpretation: Once you have picked a team, it is all about belief. You have to believe they can win, believe they can over achieve, believe in the players, believe in your own ability to change a game, through superstition at home or loud noises at the stadium. If you are not willing to throw yourself over the edge, then maybe sports aren’t for you. Try knitting, its less strenuous, and you can always pull out a stitch and start over. Sports, like religions, require faith and dedication. This is not blind faith. You don’t have to think your team will win the Super Bowl every year, or treat every baseball game in a season like the World Series. It is about taking joy in little victories, like taking two of three from a playoff team in the hunt when you have been mathematically eliminated. Sports are fun, don’t forget that.