That Anxious Jittery Feeling when your Team is Playing in that Key Game


It’s Sports Wednesday everyone, and today’s topic comes from a conversation I had last week with my son. If you are a sports fan in general or you are a fan of a specific team or teams you will understand exactly what I am talking about in today’s sports post. I don’t think I can find one word to describe the feelings, emotions and your general physical state when your team is playing that important game so I will describe it in various ways and provide examples of when I was in the state.

Let’s start by going back almost 25 years ago, to October 18, 1992.  It was the World Series, as the Toronto Blue Jays faced the Atlanta Braves. Game 6, bottom of the 11th inning, with the Blue Jays ahead 4-2. The Braves had one man on with two outs. A homerun would tie the game and an out would give the Blue Jays their first ever World Series win. My heart was racing and I could not sit still. I was so nervous that I couldn’t watch but I also couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. My mother and I were so fidgety that we started to dance around the room together. And then it happened – the player laid down a bunt to Mike Timlin the pitcher, who threw the ball to Joe Carter at first, and the Blue Jays won the World Series.

Race ahead to June 19, 2006, the day my Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup. I remember watching that game, wearing my Hurricanes hat, surrounded by naysayers (did anyone else in Toronto support the Canes? I think not). I stood up and sat down. I shifted from foot to foot and paced around the room. I felt this strange mix of fear and excitement deep inside and was so nervous in those final minutes of the third period, in game 7, with Carolina leading 2-1. My body relaxed and anxiety was replaced with elation as Justin Williams shot the puck into an empty Oilers’ net to seal the win.

It doesn’t have to be the World Series or Stanley Cup Final; it can be a game against a division or league rival in the middle of the season as well. Take this past Monday night for example. The Blue Jays were down 6-5 in the top of the 9th versus the Texas Rangers. Ryan Goins led off with an incredible double. Kevin Pillar was next at the plate, and I stood in front of the TV talking to him, willing him to get a hit to at least tie the game. I felt my heart rate increase and that anxious feeling build in my chest. It didn’t work – he got out. Next was Josh Donaldson, and I was too nervous to watch, so I left the room and paced in the hallway. Well that worked because Donaldson singled to score Goins and tie the game. After Bautista walked, Morales came through with a single, scoring Donaldson, giving the Blue Jays a 7-6 win.

Is there a sport where this feeling is heightened the most? My son and I think that nothing makes the heart race more than hockey, in particular sudden death overtime hockey. How about sudden death overtime playoff hockey?  How about the dying seconds of a basketball game when a three-point basket can turn the whole game around? I even get this sensation when a Canadian athlete is competing at the Olympics. Will the skater land the triple Axel? Will the runner cross the finish line first? It’s just so stressful!

What sport, game or team gives you that anxious jittery feeling? Tell me how a sport can make your heart race and makes your stomach flutter. Comment here, post it to me on Facebook or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.