Call it the agony of fandom

A loyal Rafa follower offers her confessions

Harriet Cuthbert

If you enjoy sports, it does not matter what teams or players you follow. There are no right or wrong choices. What does matter is your passion when you are watching your favorite athlete perfect another masterpiece.

Great passion leads to dedication to the extreme, incredible loyalty and, of course, intense adulation.

I am calling this phenomenon the “agony of fandom.”

My passion is for Rafa Nadal. I consider him God’s gift to the tennis world, so I count myself fortunate to be able to live in his aura and his era.

For more than 10 years, I have sweated, sworn and swooned over Rafa’s mastery of the sport of tennis. Every time he pulls off another miracle, I find myself staring at the TV screen with a sense of incredulity. How did he do that? How?? Did he not know the odds of winning that game, set or match were so stacked against him that even his most loyal and devoted fans might look away from time to time — but only for a minute. In our hearts, we have the utmost belief in Rafa’s will to win and in his ability to deliver shots that will defy his opponents. Those beliefs prevail over any doubts that might niggle at us.

As a fan, I feel Rafa’s dedication to his sport defies logic. We fan-atics always have faith that even when he is forced to withdraw from an important Grand Slam event because of painful physical injuries, he will recover and return to his, and our, game.

We, Rafa’s legions of fans, are always inspired by his calm demeanor on the court. We hold our collective breath and feel our hearts hammering as we wait for the next shot to prove itself a winner. We are aware of all of his rituals, but we forgive him, content to let him do what he does best — play tennis at the highest level and achieve the unachievable.

I am a proud Rafa fan-atic. I cannot imagine my life without him in it. Our mutual passion for the sport of life fuels the most profoundly positive energy I can imagine. It is Rafa’s perfection.