Are you one of those rabid sports fans? You know who I mean. If you’re watching at home, you’re sitting there, on your couch, at the edge of your seat, beer in hand. You’re leaning forward, intent on the action. When your team scores, or doesn’t, you’re on your feet, dancing around like a bee just stung you on the butt, hands punching the air, yelling your head off, face flushed almost purple.
If you happen to be there in person, at the stadium or in the arena or on the golf course or at the tennis courts or at the finish line you’re just as engaged. Just as vocal. Just as enthusiastic. Just as nuts.
Only in this instance, you’re most likely wearing a T-shirt or a cap with your favourite team’s logo on it. Or your favourite player’s name and number. You might even have your face painted. In addition to clutching a beer or a hot dog or some popcorn, or an ice cream bar you’re also probably madly waving a large foam number or finger or flag or whatever, in the team’s colours, and also sporting their logo.
Have I described you accurately? If so, you should click right here, check out yesterday’s WordPress Daily Prompt — “Are
you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom …” — and share some of your experiences.
Just in case you’re now assuming I’m writing this story because I’m a diehard sports enthusiast, an uber fan like I’ve described, you should take a pause. You’d be wrong.
My first inclination was to ignore it completely. Dismiss it, because I’m not into sports.
In fact, I did move on to the next email in my inbox. But it haunted me. Well, maybe not “haunted”. It popped in and out of my head a couple of times. I did a very quick re-wind of my life. Well, not my whole life. My life related to sports.
And much to my surprise, I realized I am ‘sort of’ into sports.
Yes, I know you can’t sort of be pregnant. You either are, or you aren’t. But truly, I think it’s different with sports. I think you can be mildly interested. Sort of, in other words.
That’s where I come in.
There was a time I loved playing golf. I was even pretty good. Good enough to keep score for a player in a Canadian Open tournament. Roberto de Vincenzo. He didn’t win (I swear it wasn’t my fault), but he did win more than 230 tournaments worldwide during his career. Including the 1967 Open Championship when he beat defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.
But I’ve also been a spectator.
Truth be told, I enjoy watching golf. Prefer it on TV because you get to see so much more. But I do watch a lot of the major tournaments. I don’t jump up and down and scream and yell obscenities, but I do hold my breath from time to time. And say a silent prayer that a putt will be sunk. Or a chip out of a sand trap will land where it’s supposed to. I enjoy pro basketball, but prefer to see it ‘live’. There’s always great energy and lots going on. For a year or two I shared a pair of Platinum tickets for part of a season, with a friend.
Like watching the Olympics, even events I’d never, ever watch any other time of year. Get into soccer, occasionally, as well. Not big on hockey (blasphemy for a Canadian, I know). Except during the winter Olympics. And I’ve been known to watch some of the major tennis tournaments as well.
When I lived in Montreal a friend and I rarely missed an Expos game. It was in the very early days, when we first got the franchise and they played at Jarry Park. It was a very small, intimate stadium. You could almost reach out and touch the players. Not quite, but you know what I mean. I don’t like the new, huge, 50,000-seat stadiums. You see more watching the game on TV.
She was dating a player from another team. Going to games with her, when they were in town, was always interesting. Because she’d be the ONLY person standing up and cheering for THEM! One time, two guys sitting behind us dumped all their popcorn and beer on us, when she cheered because WE were losing. As I recall she thought it was a hoot.
Very funny. HaHa.
One time, there was a double-header we were dying to go to. It was in September, one of the last games before the World Series. Pittsburgh, who went on to win the Series that year, were playing. A friend of my father’s had season tickets. He said we could go to the first game, but then we’d have to leave the tickets for the second game for him, at a hotel about fifteen minutes away.
He didn’t have to offer twice.
As soon as we got there, and got settled in our seats, which were amazing, I saw a client of mine. He asked if we were staying for both games. When I said we couldn’t, he asked if we would, if he could get us tickets.
Do I have to tell you what our answer was?
How we didn’t get arrested, I don’t know. We watched the final out of the first game. Ran to the car. Literally flew to the hotel. Left the tickets. Flew back to Jarry Park. And got to our new seats before the first pitch was pitched. With a second or two to spare. I don’t think I’d have the balls to drive that fast now.
Those seats were even better than the other ones. We were a couple of rows behind the visiting team dugout. Within about five minutes, the guy sitting beside me poked me in the ribs. On purpose. None too pleased, I turned around in my seat, ready to deck him. He smiled and handed me a note. It was from Roberto Clemente. If you don’t know who he is, don’t bother clicking on that link I gave you. You know dick about sports.
Roberto Clemente was one of the greatest baseball players, ever. Number 21.
- .317 batting average
- 3,000 career hits
- 240 career home runs
- 1,305 runs batted in
- played in 15 All-Star games
- 2x World Series Champion
- 12x Golden Glove Award winner
- 4x National League batting title
- 1966 National League MVP
- 1971 World Series MVP
- 1971 Babe Ruth Award
- inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, having received 92.7% first ballot votes
Sadly he was killed in a plane crash, on December 31, 1972, while on a mercy mission to Nicaragua, after which the Pirates retired his number.
But on this day, the day my friend and I were in the stadium, he was alive. Gloriously alive and playing as magnificently as ever. And HE sent ME a note, asking for my name. At first I thought it was a joke.
Then my friend started pounding me on the arm. Pointing toward the dugout. He was standing up, staring straight at me, waving. Holy Cow!!! So I wrote my name on the piece of paper and gave it back to the guy who had handed it to me. Who had a huge grin on his face. The note made its way back the way it had come.
A few minutes later, a signed baseball made its way up to me. I have it to this day.
Could it be I’m more of a sports fan than I think??