My best guess has always been that (spectator, team) sports are essentially metaphors for society; they're our society modelling itself for itself, probably mostly for the purposes of explaining social facts to people slash breaking people to the harsh realities that they must live under, if they are to live. This is, naturally, me essentially appropriating and redeploying Marx' Theses on Fuerbach in a fairly ham-fisted fashion.
That is, Marx noted that organized religions were (power-) structured in a way entirely analogous to families, and then went on to insist that both power structures should be dismantled and rebuilt.** And I'm claiming that our antagonism-riddled societies, brutally cleaved into Winners and Losers, are more or less modeled by the big spectacles we throw ourselves, with their own Winners and Losers, their own rules and enforcements, their economies and meanings, etc. The quickest way to limn this position might just be: as patriotism is to countries, so fandom is sports teams.
Anyway, I used to think that. Now I think that that's what watching sports is supposed to do—and what it maybe once did—but mostly now I think it's just another version of self-annihilation, another plastic form of escape like "T.V. and relentless masturbation"*, or excessive reading, or a purely aesthetics-driven life, or video games or model trains or men's fashion or any other micro-scale endeavor with lots of rules and moving parts and room for misdirected energies and passions and opinions... They're all great replacements for embedding oneself deeply and vividly into a community. They all offer tiny bursts of reward for minimal effort, and thus corrode our interest in the large-effort, little-reward parts of life; which is to say, the important parts. If you think I'm talking about a combination of bread and circuses on one hand and a craven and pathetic abandonment of everything that makes human, therefore social, life worth living, on the other...then you're right.***
Plus, all of those things are kind of easy, but...you know what? Getting fucked up is 'way easier than any of 'em.
(Song suggestion by Major Dude Sam Reiss)
Which brings us to an interesting fact: Molson Beer and the Montreal Canadiens are owned by the same people. It all comes together.
So, for Geoff Molson and the entire Molson family, Clear the Crease salutes the beer you brew and the team you own. May your be-numbing products always enhance the experience of consuming each other. May the curdled and rancid low-stakes form of patriotic fervor known as "rooting for the Canadiens" continue to satisfy, and may it never spill over into the weirdo patriotic fervor known as "Quebecois Separatism". May your Coors-like beer be ever available for those dark, damp moments when real life sucks just a little bit too hard to take sober.
—Collision, who likes Gang Green a little more than he should
*From Hunter S. Thompson's introduction to Generation of Swine.
**I'm leaving some parts out.
***Another part of the decay I see in sports fandom is paralleled by the decay from "patriotism" to "nationalism". This seems essentially total, at this point: see for example the lengthy cri about the essential exceptionalism of the St. Louis Cardinals. Not every nationalist movement need be violent, it seems; some can just be endlessly self-congratulatory and quietly superior. It's the nobler approach—just ask them.