There are gruesomely fascinating illustrations of stress. Not only does the word have intrinsically different meanings (putting ‘stress’ on a pronunciation, or a piece of wood, or causing mental discomfort), but also the discomfort interpretation itself has myriad sources.
Yesterday yours truly was able to participate in, as a fan, sports event stress. This was embellished by discerning the vocal pickings, by the TV announcers, steering the broadcast stress bow.
The event was the eastern division CFL clash (football is big on fighting imagery) between Montreal and my beloved Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I am a loooong time Ti-Cats serious aficionado. Notwithstanding only having seen them on home turf two or three times, I feel akin to their fan base. With the team not having won the Grey Cup, emblematic of league champions, in the new millennium, their opportunity to get to the mountaintop this year is to behold, after a tough journey through this season schedule. This means mounting tension through a game like yesterday, and probably more so in next Sunday’s finale.
When watching a broadcast, the competing perspective comes from on-air announcers, in particular the play-by-play voice. They attempt to ride the wave of inducing a variant of stress in the audience: first, stirring up the sense of rivalry, making a point of the ‘bad blood’ between the teams (as opposed to the ‘good blood’ which apparently infects players as soon as the game is over), when the score is close inferring ‘this will likely go down to the wire’ (where is that wire, I never see it even if the final score is close), forebodingly reminding that a team in the lead shouldn’t get too comfortable, optimistically implying that the team behind ‘has come back dramatically before’, etc.
The problem for the fan is that, if your team is ahead, the announcers implicit bent towards keeping the larger audience tuned in, i.e. ratings, causes them to drag out these stress inducing expressions, holding down the ropes of one’s balloon of hope and comfort. On the other hand, if one’s team is behind, these trite expressions often sound sycophantic, or at least perfunctory.
While the truly engrossed fan focuses on the big picture of the team winning, the announcers bounce back and forth between on-field happenings which become viewed as ‘momentum changers’, but which regularly prove to have short life spans replaced by the next one. The more committed a fan is to one side or the other, the harder it is to ignore the placating platitudes of announcers basking in their official lack of partisanship.
Ratchet up the tension, release comes and goes.