I don’t get sports

Even though I was unathletic, sometimes I’d play vacant-lot sports with the neighborhood boys. I was marginally competent as a goalie in soccer and on defense in football, the latter largely because I was a little bigger than the other kids. Otherwise, I couldn’t catch, I couldn’t hit, and I threw so badly that the other kids nicknamed me Crazy Arms.

Fortunately, my sorry skills didn’t make it too tough for me to grow up in my sports-loving home. Even though Dad had been a top pitcher in local baseball and my brother played football and ran cross country, my family mostly watched sports on TV. We got cable in 1972 (for $2.99 a month) so Dad could watch the White Sox all summer. In the autumn, Dad watched Notre Dame football on Saturday afternoons and the Bears on Sunday afternoons. In the winter, it was Notre Dame basketball, of course. My brother watched with Dad, and they were a study in contrast. Dad sat through every game motionless and silent, leaning slightly forward in his La-Z-Boy, grave-faced over every play. My brother was explosive, jumping and shouting with joy for the successes and in anger over the failures, especially when his beloved Steelers played.

I tried to watch some games with my dad and brother, since it seemed like this was what men did. I even sat through a couple Steelers Super Bowls with my brother (one year rooting hard for the Cowboys, in vain, just to be contrary). While I learned to follow the games halfway sort of reasonably well,
nothing about them ever resonated with me. Increasingly, I found myself anywhere but the living room on game days. I just wasn’t interested. It seems I had not inherited the sports gene, and in time I became okay with that.

No football on my TV!

So as an adult, sports has been on my TV maybe a half-dozen times, always when somebody visited and wanted to watch a game. I didn’t even watch the Colts in the 2007 Super Bowl. I may have been the only man in Indianapolis who went to bed at 10 p.m. that night.

I’ve missed out on some opportunities because I don’t play or follow sports. Among men, small talk often turns to sports, and I have nothing to say. The guy who founded the company I work for is a big Notre Dame fan, and when he found out I’m from South Bend he always wanted to talk Notre Dame football with me. I did a lot of nodding and smiling, but I was missing a great opportunity to get tight with the big boss. Many places I’ve worked, guys get together for golf, but I’m out since I hung up my clubs in indifference (and 75-stroke scores for 9 holes) years ago. These golf circles usually include people at all levels of the company, giving regular employees access to vice presidents. I have to gain access to the big guys in other ways.

On the balance, though, I’m happy without sports. Not watching sports frees up my weekends, and I save a ton of money on green fees.


7 thoughts on “I don’t get sports

  1. Leo says:

    I’m as competitive as the next guy, but professional sports also have never particularly interested me and ***gasp*** football just plain bores me.

    In my social circles professional sports is as much about networking and politics (of sorts) as it is about male bonding.

    I guess I have more of a “geek gene” than a “sports gene”?

  2. Dani says:

    Andy can relate; his dad and brother are big sports fans. Outside of a hockey game here and there, his interests are music and other non-atheletic geeky stuff. His enjoyment of Nascar diminished as the glamorous “young guns” started replacing the faithful “good ol’ boys”. Lunches with the guys at work are usually filled with sports talk which he rolls his eyes at. Me, well after 4 decades I’m finally starting to understand football and have been bitten by the Colts bug. Sundays, it’s me and the boys sporting our blue and cheering on the Colts while Andy naps. Who’da thunk? :-)
    I support sports in that participating is good for the body and mind and as far as televised sports, most is better than some of the questionable ‘entertainment’ presented to us. But my thoughts on that and professional athelete salaries is best left for another blog.

  3. EB says:

    In the past, if you didn’t like the neighboring town, you could get your people together and beat the crap out of them and come home and gloat.

    Maybe sports is a way to take out aggression in a socially acceptable way.

    That said, it feels really good to smack a tennis ball. Instead of your spouse. (oops did I say that last part out loud???)

  4. Leo: I think you’re on to something there. I think there’s a greater amount of sports ambivalence among the geeks.

    Dani: Your hubby falls into that bucket too, doesn’t he?

    EB: Aggression is only one aspect of it. Competitiveness is another that can’t be overlooked. know men who will compete with a lamp if nothing else is available.

  5. EB says:

    Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio

    In the Shreve High football stadium,
    I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
    And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
    And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
    Dreaming of heroes.

    All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
    Their women cluck like starved pullets,
    Dying for love.

    Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
    At the beginning of October,
    And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.

    -James Wright

  6. While I seem to be somewhat of a natural athlete, I never got into sports heavily and the one I did (marksmanship) is often looked down upon by “real” athletes. I get into watching just about any sport on TV aside from golf (and shooting ironically enough), but I very rarely do. I watched my first football game since the Super Bowl during Christmas week.

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