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Fans in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Munich, Germany. Source: René Stark http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Something’s happened to me that I can’t explain. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the beginning of my youthful decline. Or maybe it’s the fact that none of my teams did very well in the regular season or playoffs this year so far. Whatever it is, I find myself not caring much about American sports these days.

I haven’t watched a single minute of the NBA Finals this year, and don’t plan to either. I care only slightly more that the Celtics win only because I can stand Kobe Bryant and the Lakers even less. I didn’t watch a single minute of the Stanley Cup Finals, didn’t watch the French Open, haven’t watched baseball in years, and have tired of the 2010 NFL season three months before it starts. What’s wrong with me?

The thrill is gone, as BB King would say. I used to live and die by my teams, especially the Knicks. With them playing three Game 7s in the ’94 NBA Playoffs, my emotions were on a roller-coaster ride with every game. There were games back then that left me hoarse from screaming at officials, with my jaw clenched after a loss, in orgasmic euphoria after a win.

The last time I felt that way about anything in any sport was when my Steelers won the Super Bowl last year (2008-09 season, that is). Even then, I felt so bad for Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals. They gave their all to win that game. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have felt anything for any opponent like that twenty years ago.

I think that it’s not so much that I’m getting older or have become more mature. It’s that I no longer need the spectacle of sports to jump-start my imagination or get me off the couch to exercise. I prefer the sound of my long-distance two swishing through a net over the sound of it on TV. I prefer the dread and challenge of a three-to-four-mile-run over sitting on the couch and figuring out what defensive scheme is being run before most quarterbacks do. I have become, sadly, a casual fan of spectator sports.

So, where do I go from here? It’s not as if the NFL’s going to become dynasty driven again, or that there are a bunch of teams in the NBA with enough talent to challenge the — yawn — same old teams that compete for rings almost every year. The baseball ship sailed for me years ago, and I’d probably have to go see a Capitals game in person before I’d enjoy watching hockey again. Maybe it’ll be the World Cup, or the US Open (golf), or watching Noah knock down an eight-footer. I’ll bet on that last one waking me from my slumber.