Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Wide World of Sports

I grew up watching ABC Wide World of Sports with my parents.  "The thrill of victory... and the agony of defeat." Dut-dut-duh-duh.  Sports were only available on Sundays, from one of the three channels available.  Yes, three, for those of you younger than I am; I realize that looks like a typo.  My hometown is Elkhart, Indiana, which is only 30 minutes from Notre Dame; not everyone loves ND in the area, but I did.  My dad took me to basketball games and I watched John Paxson play for them, way before he became the General Manager of the Bulls.  We cheered for the Bears and Cubbies, and we did the Superbowl Shuffle with Jim McMahon. 

The older I get, the more I love sports.  Which is a good thing, because it's pretty much all we watch.  No reality TV (if my husband can help it... I like American Idol and The Voice when I can catch them), and the occasional sitcom.  Two USA dramas have a place in our hearts:  Burn Notice and In Plain Sight.  Other than that, it's baseball... football... basketball... and hockey.  More or less in that order.  All year long.

Sentimental favorite: Wrigley Field
Several years ago, I was flying first class from Atlanta to Cincinnati and sat near Chris Myers from Fox Sports.  As we were deplaning, I started talking to him; I knew exactly who he was and his voice is very distinctive.  I told him that I believed that women who can talk about sports can find an advantage in the business world, and especially in sales.  Knowing about sports gives you the opportunity to talk to sports fans at their level, and it's an ice breaker.  Sometimes, it impresses them that you can talk about sports at all, even if you're just talking about the score of last night's game.  He agreed with me and encouraged me to write about it as a feature article, and I kept his cell phone number in my phone for a long time (I may or may not still have it on there...).  He called me later to ask me to come to a Falcons game he was covering, but I was on my way to my very first weekend away with Will in Phoenix, and didn't talk to him again. 
Turner Field: girls who love baseball!

I used to think baseball on TV was about as exciting as watching grass grow.  This may sound ridiculous, but I read the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baseball about seven years ago, and I have been in love with MLB ever since.  The book explained to me the history of baseball, the strategy of the lineup, the exact distance between the bases, and great games in history.  I can't say I memorized it all or starting spouting stats, but I came away with a greater appreciation of America's pastime. Now I even love to watch it on TV and my husband has shared his love of the Texas Rangers, and I'm a new fan of Nelson Cruz, Derek Holland, Michael Young, et al.

College Game Day is my favorite show.  I love Dr. Lou.  I know the fight songs for Texas A&M and Notre Dame (but strangely, can't remember the one for my own alma mater, University of Cincinnati).  Baseball hats aren't just a bad hair day fashion statement, but walking billboards for my favorite teams.  I've been known to make a good run on a March Madness pool, and have won a time or two.  One of the best parties I've ever attended was camping out for tickets to a University of Cincinnati basketball game back in 1990, when Nick Van Exel was playing for UC, and they were on their way to a Final Four season the next year.  Not all of my friends love sports, and we share other interests.   For me, it's a lot more thrilling to watch a game than the Kardashians or those crazy Jersey Shore people.  Don't get me wrong; if you love the Housewives of whichever county and that makes you happy, I'm not here to tell you that you should change.  If you don't love to watch sporting events, give a chance to reading a book about the sport and then try again, especially if you're a "football widow" or similarly disconnected during certain seasons; you may surprise yourself. 

We are already sharing our love for sports with our son ("buh-ball" and cheering after the national anthem are a great start).  I have a lot of great memories that begin with sports, and value the opportunity for teaching him good sportsmanship along the way.  I wonder what sports news and sports events will look like when he's my age... what will be his "Wide World of Sports"?

Decorated and ready for EMHS regionals
My friends and me with the Irish Guard, circa 1985
In the stands at Northside Gym

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