Saturday, July 12, 2014


I gather there's been a little excitement recently in Brazil.

My Better Half grew up a Cubs fan (one with 90% scar tissue, as George Will said), though she's learned to root for the Brewers. Some of the rest of the clan work up some desultory enthusiasm for the Packers if they do well, but mostly wait until SuperBowl parties to watch anything. Middle Daughter has been watching events from Brazil, though.

I didn't grow up in the US, but I think my lack of connection to sports is more temperament than environment. I can get involved enough in a softball or basketball or football or ultimate Frisbee game if I'm playing (Less than mediocre in all of them, though), or stay interested if I know somebody on the field, but otherwise I have to work to pay attention. I've a vague home team loyalty, of the "I hope the team my friends like wins" sort.

I used to have a kind of snobbish superiority about that: "I'm above such trivia." "I am the cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me."

But sports enthusiasm gets people involved with each other, cheering for something together, joining in some facsimile of community. That's not a trivial thing when almost all other amusements isolate/atomize us: slouching in a seat watching cat videos or playing Angry Bird, or headphone-isolated into your own playlist. And we move around so much that no place is quite home (cosmopolitan=homeless); except for the place the home team has in the heart. We need something to bond us--sports are better than nothing (at least until we go all Blues and Greens). Not a very profound bond, but not nothing, mixing the generations in a way that even churches often don't.

I don't disparage sports anymore (I try not to, anyway), though I haven't tried to work up an interest in them yet.


Donna B. said...

"my lack of connection to sports is more temperament than environment"

I did grow up in the US and I have no interest in professional sports at all.

College sport I can work up a little interest in, mainly because my children are interested in their teams. And their teams are sometimes interesting -- TCU, W&M, Fresno State, SC, UT (Texas, not Tennessee -- but which one did pick orange first?)

My interest is entirely due to the interest of people I care about. My role is to play the disinterested, ignorant party they explain things to.

It's a fun role. We all enjoy it.

Donna B. said...

One of the funniest conversations I had was with the desk clerk at a motel I stayed in in Tuscaloosa AL.

Though I was tired, I did ask him why there were huge statues of elephants beside the entrance to the motel.

He said, "So, you're not a college football fan, right?" I told him that I wasn't unless it was a college team my offspring rooted for.

I did not know that the elephant was Alabama's mascot until that friendly desk clerk explained it to me.

I made his day (or night, since it was late) with the ensuing discussion of why mascots for college teams did or did not make sense.

And I retired laughing too.

Texan99 said...

Every now and then I get caught up in a team's drama. In law school I got awfully excited about the UH basketball team, whose name I can't even remember now. That was when Olajuwon and Drexler were at UH, before they joined the Houston whatever. I have no idea why I wasn't interested before or after, but I can still remember almost aching for them to win and being utterly absorbed by every move on the court.

So theoretically I understand an interest in sports, even though 99% of the time, if someone tries to talk to me about it, it's all I can do to stay awake for the completion of the sentence. It's like trying to remember what it felt like to have a crush, long after the crush is over.

In other contexts, I find competition highly entertaining. Don't know what it is about sports. I don't object or anything; I'm just puzzled. I do understand the rush of communal feeling even if I can rarely participate in it wholeheartedly.