I have never really been into sports. I know, I know, I fit the cliental of a non sports fan. I have my theater degree, I have zero athletic skills myself, and I am a woman. I hate that I fit the stereotype, and I hate even more that people assume I am a sports hater. That just because I am sitting in a coffee shop this beautiful November Sunday afternoon typing some free writes instead of “watching the game” (whose playing again?) that I am obviously a foe to the NFL. That I, being me, obviously think sports are stupid and that football is super duper dumb.
And, you know something, that is just not true. Not true at all. I get baffled when my boyfriend apologizes because he wants to turn on the game real quick. I shrug when my Dad prefaces his sports story with a “I know you don’t really care” before saying “did you see (insert famous player) do that (impressive move or play) during the (quarter of the game) that (totally won the game/was awesome)?” I’m enthused you’re enthused gentlemen! I get being a fan, even if I am not one.
Despite my profile, it’s actually quite of a conundrum that I’m not into sports at all. Case and point: EVERY OTHER PERSON IN MY FAMILY. My dad and two brothers are not just sports fans; they are sports fanatics. My dad in particular lives and breaths the game, any game, at any time. My dad (Coach Tafel, respectively) talks about sports like it’s the weather. Phone calls home are not “It’s been nice and sunny today” but rather they begin with, “God Bless Tim Tebow” or “Tulowitski baby!” He has this assumption that everyone saw the big game and is on the same page. And that to me is a true sign of a sports lover. Growing up, my dad would chaperone the boys’ soccer tournaments and spend the off days watching other youth teams that his sons were not on. Recently, he woke up in at 3am to watch the USA Rugby team play in the World Cup. His Ipad’s desktop page is his fantasy football team. He has coached every sport under the sun, and if you ask anyone who has had him, he’s one of the best around, no matter what the sport is.
Likewise, my two brothers and mom have followed suit. One childhood Christmas, Brian’s big Santa gift was an electronic baseball stats tracker, and he was like 8. (Legos anyone?) Michael, as an adult, has mastered the “scream cheer after a good play” that can rumble even the most securely structured home. Mom has a Rockies and Rapids jersey with matching collectors glasses.
So you would think at the very least I would be a fan of some team, somewhere (Colorado). Or at the very least I would know how to play football (confession, I only kind of do.)
Maybe it is my subconscious way of rebelling, my third child revolt against the fam with a secret hope at being pegged as the “black sheep” that I could then reveal in my bestselling memoirs, claiming it as my adversity in my lowly childhood. But the fact of the matter is I am not the black sheep. How did I get into theater? My parents took us to musicals as kids. Why do I love game nights and party hosting? My brothers are trivia nuts and my mom is a great baker. How did I get so loud and outgoing? Have you met my dad? Nope, I am a non sports fan by some fluke of the trade. And fuck you if you are still thinking “eh, it’s because you’re a woman.” I hate that.
It only makes sense that I should be a sports fan, even beyond my pedigree. I love being enthused and excited about things, and nothing is more unifying than friends cheering on a team. I love great story telling, and really any arena game has a beautiful three hour story arc if the game is played well. Food and beer usually tie into festivities, and I like both those things. I like smack talk. I like victory. I like deep discussion about character attributes, and that would certainly come into play when it comes to one’s passing yardage and sportsmanlike conduct.
I used to think that I wasn’t a sports fan because I just didn’t have time to be a sports fan. Like I simply have so many other interests that take precedence over attempting to be a sports fan, which we can all agree is a time consuming activity. So this year, I decided to do a little experiment when football season started. I decided to pick two teams and follow them. I figured if I actually took the time and made it like a chore to myself, that maybe the outcome would be a newly invested sports fan who could sit proudly with her sports fan lineage and defy all the nay-sayers who think I could give a shit.
Boy, what a fucking terrible year to do this. Being in the Colorado area, I picked CU and Broncos. Yep. Go me.
I wasn’t even trying to sit and watch games (for the most part, I worked during a lot of them) but I did check on scores and ask about other teams and their ranking and have the normal detective skills of an active football fan. So far, CU has only won two games in an incredibly embarrassing season and the Broncos are doing a thing called Tebowing that is already annoying the hell out of me.
When I finally got around to watching a few games, I was in for a rude awakening. And here is the part where I know I will piss off every sports fan ever.
Sports are boring.
I like sports movies, so I’ve always had that going for me. It’s hard to think that baseball is a boring game when you get such hefty plots like League Of Their Own and The Sandlot out of the game. But, let’s be honest. Baseball is a long game with lots of overweight tobacco chewers. Mighty Ducks and D2 doesn’t make it any easier to follow that tiny ass puck on a t.v. screen. Space Jam and Hoosiers doesn’t detract from how lame this NBA lockout is. And then you got Friday Night Lights and Jerry McGuire, but dear god! Football. FOOTBALL.
Have football fans ever really dissected what they are wasting all their time watching on a perfectly beautiful Sunday? As an outsider trying so hard to break in to fandom, let me give you a run down of a typical five minute period on any particular game.
Back from a beer commerical break. Football music plays. Announces talk about their thoughts from the last play before commercials. Cut to the quarterback who is sitting down. Cut to the coach on his headset. Cut to other team’s head coach. Show all the forty-million players who are slowly walking to their positions on the field. Cut to the ref. Cut to the coach. Cut to the players lining up for the play. Cut to the sitting quarterback again. Cut to the coach again. Cut to the players standing in position then stopping to think about it, then going ahead with that stance and position. Back to the coach, who by the way hasn’t changed his expression from the other three times the camera is one him. Brief pause for what I assume is the “blue forty two, blue forty two, hut hut hike” moment on the field. Then… EXCITEMENT TIME! Quarterback gets the ball, tries to throw, but gets tackled. And boom. EXCITEMENT END. A yellow flag is thrown. Cut to coach. Cut to other coach. Cut to random players spitting. Cut to the players getting up from the tackled and sauntering back to the team huddle. Cut to ref explaining flag. Announcers comment on it. REPLAY THE TWO SECONDS OF EXCITEMENT… this time in slow-mo and this time with yellow squiggles drawn to further explain the two seconds of excitement because that is all there is to talk about. Cut to defensive coordinator. Cut to coach. Cut to a players walking, stretching. Cut to commercial.
I’m sorry, but boo. At the end of the day, it’s not about the massive testosterone or my confusion of the game or even the poor playing. (You can even edit my breakdown by instead putting in “quarterback throws it and it’s caught” but it will still be the same play by play.) I can’t be a football fan because it is too boring. Now, I know there are exceptions, there are those great plays that defy logic. Those final grand hail-mary moments that make you want to burst in tears because you were there, and you were alive when it happened. But it just seems like there is too much bullshit you are wading through in hopes for that moment.
It would be like watching Star Wars knowing there’s a chance that you may not see any light sabers in the next three hours. (And with beer commercials).
And I get the passion and I am envious of it. I get why my Dad watches a Cleveland Indians game from the very beginning to the very end. I get why my brother is a basketball coach with a whole library of differing coaching philosophies. I get why Ray built it and why they all came. I just don’t think that right now, with how the game is boringly being played, it’s worth it.
I wonder, as a newly experimenting sports person and thus sports critic, if this is a common complaint. Do other fans wish they would get on with it already? I guarantee one’s fan base would expand greatly if football just did one play right after another right after another with no breaks in the middle and with all attempts being big and bold. I bet games would sell out constantly if baseball players actually RAN to first base instead of lightly jogged because they steroided it out of the park or gave up immediately because it was a crappy hit. Basketball seems to be the only exception to me, as that game is pretty fast paced and high scoring but wait, those ass-wipes are sitting on a super stupid lockout.
Now, I’ll keep up with my experiment through the end of the season, and I’ll get back to you if any changes occur, but I think I have to go ahead and say I just don’t like sports. Here I was thinking I was indifferent, that I was not anti-anything, but in the end I am just a female theater person who likes to write silly thoughts and stories and who, at the end of the day, hates sports.
Fine, stereotype, you win.
– One L
“Be there Buffalo Butt Breath.” “COUNT ON IT PEE DRINKING CRAP FACE!” – The Sandlot