I truly am not a hypochondriac, but share my numerous maladies on this blog for entertainment value. That said, it's so ridiculous the abuse I've placed on my body due to depression alone as a result of my wife's death. Depression has led to my high blood pressure and hypertension, type 2 diabetes, sleeplessness and excessive sleepiness, and a couple of new things: anxiety attacks and restless legs syndrome. What has happened to me?
I may have the answer: passionate sports fanaticism. Forgive me for making light of my ailments, but my sports teams may well be causing the vast majority of them. The teams that I follow, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, and Maryland Terrapins, all seem to struggle in various degrees of success, and many times are victims of horrendous losses in extreme conditions. My Steelers, who I am probably most passionate about, may be the most successful NFL football team in the Super Bowl era, but every season seems to be a struggle for them, even when it appears they may be dominating the teams they play. They've won 6 Super Bowls, more than any other team, but not once, in all 6 of those victories, did they completely dominate the teams they played. The games tend to go down to the wire, with extremely close scores, and the Steelers either hang on for the win, or have to fight for a last-second score to achieve victory. Their losses have been horrible and have caused me to get very depressed for short periods of time. My passion for the Steelers even causes me stress in my own neighborhood. Living in the Baltimore-Washington area means having the fans of the dreaded Ravens, who number almost as many as Steeler Nation in this area, abuse me regularly for being a fan of my Steelers, even though I was born and raised here. It's very frustrating.
Being a Pirates fan is about as bad as it gets. The Bucs, as we affectionately call them, have been not only Major League Baseball's most recent losing-est team, but they are professional sport's losing-est team with 19 straight years without a winning season. I was fortunate to have attended the last Pirate's playoff game in 1992, when the Bucs beat the Atlanta Braves to take a 3-2 lead in the National League Championship Series that season, before losing games 6 & 7 and beginning their long spiral into mediocrity. Watching the Bucs every season since has caused me nothing but heartbreak, and I, along with all other Buccos fans, keep hoping not only a return to the playoffs, but a winning season. Whether that ever happens remains to be seen.
My Penguins, one of the National Hockey Leagues best teams, seem to have some of the best talent in professional hockey, including arguably the best hockey player in the world in Sidney Crosby. While the Pens did win a Stanley Cup championship a few years ago, every season becomes such a struggle, with injuries to their superstars, and early playoff exits despite all of the talent they have. Right now, I'm watching them self destruct yet again against the bottom most seed in the eastern bracket of the playoffs, the New York Islanders. There is no excuse for them allowing this series to continue to 6 (and probably 7, given how the current game is going) games. The Pens are truly the better team, except when it counts, and right now they are on the ropes. The only positive is that they will return to Pittsburgh for a Game 7, if it comes to it, where they are a much better team. But they are struggling mightily and it's still the first round of the playoffs. They have to play better.
My Alma mater, the University of Maryland Terrapins, have had limited success in football and basketball, but they are always the underdog and rarely finish on top, in either sport. I love my Terps, and will always root for them, but I seem to always feel such disappointment in their losses. I'm hoping for greater success when they switch from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), where they were a founding member, to the Big 10, but there are a lot of very good teams in the Big 10, especially in football, and the next few seasons could very well be hard to watch.
So there you go.... I 'm going to continue to have health problems as long as I feel such passion for my teams. I never figured that being a sports fan could be so hazardous to my health.