Andrew Wiggins — born Feb. 23, 1995 is a 6-foot-8-inch small forward who most recently played for the Kansas Jayhawks and could very well be the No. 1 overall NBA draft pick come June. He possesses extraordinary quickness and athleticism and has tantalized scouts with his potential even from his time in high school.
My name is Miles Hinson, also born Feb. 23, 1995. I’m about 5-foot-8-inch, and my athleticism is approximately nonexistent. I do, however, frequent the basketball courts in Dillon Gymnasium, where my turnover to assist ratio is somewhere around 10 to 1.
But I digress. I bring up Andrew Wiggins because this is the first time I find myself able to make a comparison between myself and a (soon-to-be) star athlete. For young sports fans, there’s a sense of wonder and, to a somewhat lesser degree, idolization of the professional athletes that dominate their television screens night in and night out. Even for us profoundly unathletic fans, there lurks in the back of the mind some small hope, a faint dream that we can emulate the moves we see star athletes perform. Anyone who has ever yelled “Kobe!” on a fadeaway jump shot can attest to that.
Just as with the transition between childhood and adulthood, there exists no definitive point where fans lose their starry-eyed innocence about their own athletic prowess. How could we pinpoint the exact moment where we realize he or she cannot be a superhero, or an astronaut, or a professional sports player? Where exactly do we accept that childhood dreams just are not feasible?
After finding out we share a birthday, my watching Andrew Wiggins became a slightly different experience. I have just found it odd watching someone my age on such a quick path to stardom. This time next year, I’ll be trying to crank out ORFE problem sets and to juggle extracurriculars. Mr. Wiggins could very well be on his way to rookie of the year, earning a salary at age 20 that most people only dream of attaining at some point mid-career.
It’s not exactly disconcerting, but it is a thought that gives me pause. How do you continue to enjoy watching these sports when you realize that the people you watch are your age and living what seems to be the ideal life? How does a fan avoid perpetual feelings of envy or bitterness?
Maybe the answer is simply that we ultimately outgrow the feelings of envy we initially harbor. It’s obvious that people (or at least 99 percent) don’t spend their entire lives constantly yearning to live the life of a professional athlete. We grow up. We reconcile with ourselves about our shortcomings and accept the fact that some fantasies are not meant to be reality. Thus passes the turning point for a sports fan.
I admit my statements are bold, all the more so since my only evidence derives from my personal experience as a sports fan. Nevertheless, I still believe that I speak for many when I discuss these feelings of envy that stem from seeing sports stars of my own age, those soon-to-be professionals that get millions for playing a game. Of course, this is not to say that hundreds of hours of toil have not gone into the careers of said players to get where they are, but between 100 hours of test-taking and problem sets and 100 hours of working on my basketball game, it’s not a hard choice to make.
At the end of the day, I get to watch Andrew Wiggins, my own age, taking off for a jaw-dropping dunk in the NBA. I will continue to write papers and toil through college. Such is life.