I’m a Nervous Fan

My nerves don’t get the best of me too often. I’m not normally panicky or get a stomach full of butterflies, unless I’m watching Liverpool Football Club, then I’m a mess.

      Most weekends I have some guys over to watch Liverpool play when the normally confident and sure-of-himself Corey transforms into a spineless, nail-biting, nervous wreck of what once (we assume) was a real man.
      And I seem to love it for some reason. My guys certainly do.
      I alternate from talking piles of trash to the recording of the game (the English Premier League plays early in mornings that I’m normally working), to breaking out in cold sweats and creating worst case scenarios in my avid imagination… back to trash talking… back to hoping my trash talking is not jinxing my team (more accurately reverse jinxing a game already over hours before). It’s so complicated and negative it’s like the polar opposite of my normal mood.
      I was lucky in that I have a dad who is just super solid and optimistic. He always seemed to do the right thing which means he understood how to discipline his emotions so panic didn’t overtake priorities. Being a pastor I watch how panic seems to put us in situations more disciplined people don’t find themselves in as often. Why is that?
      I look at the legacy of his life and it just speaks of solidly doing the right thing at the right time year after year after year. Our family always felt solid because dad was.
      I’m apparently not like that.
      Don’t get me wrong, most of the time his Dutch efficiency wins the day inside of me. People would have to admit that I’m extremely optimistic and rarely make poor character decisions based on emotion or the panic of a surprise situation, and I have my dad to thank for that.
      But when I watch football, or as we call it here: “soccer”, my mom’s Irish influence takes over and I become a much more tragic figure whose wittiness soars to the heights people envy, but in a moment of Liverpool weakness comes crashing down into the blackness of depression. The guys love coming over but I’m beginning to suspect it’s not the game they’ve come to experience, but their fearless leader auditioning for the role of “Emotional Jr High Girl” in the Liverpool Saga.
      When I’m on point I have no moral issue with making any sort of fun of the opposing team’s manager, stadium workers or fans if it will get a laugh. I once claimed an Arsenal defender was recruited by Arsene Wenger not from another football club, but from selling hot dogs before the game to the crowd. Why? Because he was too tall. The guys roared in laughter and that’s all that matters.
      Mr Wenger has been verbally compared to an “unhappy drowning rat whose hands can’t find his own coat pockets” on numerous occasions. Manchester United fans have been accused of “selling their souls to the devil and forgetting to ask for anything”. I admittedly have made fun of opposing fans hair styles, clothing and looks in general, but within a moment of shaky LFC defence I repent and retract and hope judgement can be averted from heaven on my sins, which are the only reason we ever get scored against.
      Aren’t we all a little like that? We have our strong moments but can’t seem to escape our Achilles Heel even when we want to. I wish I could be a confident football watcher but it’s just not in me. Maybe I care about Liverpool winning too much, or maybe just winning in general?
      All I know is that the excruciating process repeats itself every weekend in spite of my best efforts to regain control. I do realize some of you must be thinking of things that we’re way too touchy and emotional about, real things like marriage and money and parenting? Things we hate to think might amuse those around us every time we freak out and do the exact opposite we should have, but things we also can’t seem to stop?
      I suppose I could try and figure out a way to avoid the mess and what it does to my image, but everyone knows I’m not going to. There’s something in me that has to provide a train wreck that will captivate my audience’s attention if only for a few moments. At least I’m the star of my little drama, if only for awhile…
      I think dad taught me well.
Be solid and never panic about the things that really matter.
Save the drama for recreation and have a laugh at yourself after.
            It’s a good mix.
Corey Kope

Pastor. Father of 4 beauties. Devoted husband, Liverpool fan, and Jesus follower.

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