My relationship with sports
Years ago, if asked whether or not I was a sports fan, I would’ve said, with great pith: Sure. But I didn’t know what a true “sports fan” was till I met your gracious host for this blog and my husband, Paul. I mean, I liked baseball and football, I liked the New York teams (rivalries were not my thing), I looked forward to the Olympics, I felt I was a tomboy, but as for having my husband’s passion---and I’m talking about more than the info and stats seemingly lounging around in his head till I pose a question and he calls the factoid up---I just didn’t.
What I was was a “call me in at the ninth inning/is it the finals yet?” kind of sports viewer. For instance, I didn’t “get” what a pitcher’s duel really was till I watched games with my husband and he involved me pitch-by-pitch and a whole world of sports opened up for me that I hadn’t known existed. And so now I knew you could tell how Andy Pettitte’s game is going to go by how he pitches in the first inning; and I learned about how much research Greg Maddox does into everyone he throws against, taking him to a level beyond his gifted arm.
As for my ability to play sports, well, when the boys in school accused me or anyone else of “throwing like a girl,” I could only stand there steaming. The alternative was spouting a half-assed, “Not ALL girls throw like a girl, y’know. I mean, me, yes, okay, undoubtedly. And don’t make me catch things either.” Case in point: in grade school, I was on a little league team and I played in right field due to the fact that ten-year-old girls were unlikely to hit it that far.
In high school, I ran track. Not exactly unathletic, but I must admit I chose it so I wouldn’t have to throw, aim, connect, or make a basket. So as you can see, I’m no (Paul, insert name of whoever you think is appropriate here. Thx, babe!)
What’s the rule I always forget?
Sometimes I don’t even have to ask Paul to pause the game for a question. His hand is already reaching for the remote as I gather my breath to say, Is that the guy who … or What’s that acronym … for the thousandth time. I know the rules for most professional sports, but aren’t there some that only come up once in a blue moon? And, don’t tell Paul, but I do know the infield fly rule, it’s just so cute that he always tells me again. (He’s so patient.)
Romance in sports
What I do get about sports is the romance, the drama. As a writer of fiction, I’m in love with story. And sports is all about the great story. The at-the-buzzer triumphs, the soul-crushing losses, the stories of eccentric characters as well as the dignified players who play on through injuries. I hated boxing, until a writer like Thom Jones made me understand it, and until the film When We Were Kings touched me with Ali’s larger-than-life win as much as it did with George Foreman’s resiliency in coming back from a loss that might’ve crushed another person. Sports is where anyone can have a perfect day. Just ask Don Larsen. Anyone can suddenly be “in the zone” and achieve something amazing.
So I do love sports now. I love the Yankees and Jets, and not just because Paul loves them. I loved watching Misty May and Kerri Walsh in the Olympics Women’s Volleyball, which my husband enjoyed on another level completely. When Final Jeopardy! has a sports question, I write it down to test Paul later. I love the colorful metaphors of the sports writers, the courage and humor of the players. And how about those fans? When I’m at a game I don’t see the guy in front of me as a fat, loudmouthed borderline alcoholic. No, I see a zaftig vociferous borderline alcoholic and we’re all friends (as long as we’re wearing the same cap and jersey). And I have a special place in my heart for the sports nerd type with his scorecard and miniature pencil, soberly writing in backwards Ks. (Aw!)
Though I’ve grown to appreciate more things about sports than I used to there are some things that I still don’t get, like Draft Day. And I’ll probably never be a basketball fan since the way I see it it’s: they run this way, they score, they run that way, they score, but Yankees opening day…. Hit Pause, Honey. Let me get us some beers before they start.