Friday, July 25, 2014

Sports and Me

Attribution Some rights reserved by andertoons
Sports are a thing that I just don't get. I am not that into them. I mean...I've tried? It's not that the games can't be exciting? But as a whole, I just do not care about sports.

This is awkward, especially when you live in the northwest corner of Arkansas near Fayetteville. Everyone hear, they love them some Razorback football. I have met people who--no joke--have decorated their entire house in nothing but Razorback themed memorabilia. It's very damned intimidating.

I've always liked the idea of being into sports. I have seen Remember the Titans at least 6 times because I had to watch it twice a year in middle school. My gym coach was a huge fan. He also at some point showed us The Rookie. I used to own and have watched Angels in the Outfield several times. But ultimately, the actual act of following sports teams and watching sports games always left me cold. The movies always made every game seem like an action packed, drama-ridden event of the ages. But the actual games were a bit...slower...

When I was very young--probably around the first or second grade?--I tried playing baseball. The very first practice, I was playing catch with a couple of kids. I looked away for a second when I heard, "Heads up!" Then SMACK. I got hit in the eye with a softball. I passed out. That was pretty much the end of that.

When I was between 8 and 14, I wanted to be a basketball player. I collected basketball cards. I watched Space Jam. I practiced shooting hoops outside for hours and hours. The one thing I didn't do? Actually watch the games. Like...almost ever. I was mostly into it because my step-brother was into it, and I looked up to him. I also tragically lacked any sort of athletic talent at all.

My love of basketball died when I joined the junior high basketball team. I spent the entire first semester--football season--running laps, fighting with my asthma, trying to get in shape to get ready for basketball season. When the time came, I was ecstatic. I made it one practice, blacked out, had to take my inhaler three times. I finally just hid in the locker room until practice was over. I was so hyped up on meds, I felt like I was experiencing a one-person earthquake. My coach wound up making fun of me for hiding, and that was the end of that experience.

From the ages of 14-16, I was not into sports. I turned my attention first to anime, then fantasy novels, then superhero cartoons like Justice League, and Teen Titans. It wasn't until I was in my Junior year that I remember getting kind of into sports again. My best friend stated getting super into football because of his family. I'm not sure why they arbitrarily decided to start following football. Up until that point, every person in his family was a giant nerd, but one day they were like FOOTBALL! DO YOU WATCH THE FOOTBALL? MAD LOVE FOR THE FOOTBALL, Y'ALL!

Since I didn't want to be left behind as my friend's tastes evolved, I arbitrarily picked team names from a list of NFL names. I wound up weirdly sticking to bird names. My friend liked the Eagles, so I liked them, too. I also chose the Ravens, the Falcons, and the Seahawks. I was really into birds. It was weird, guys.

This feigned interest didn't last long. I'd say...a couple months? At most? Because sports is boring guys. There's no narrative to follow, at least, not really on a game-by-game basis. You'd have to catch the whole season to understand the stakes. And there are long stretches where there isn't really any action, just people milling around.

It's a little embarrassing being so completely not into sports. I can argue all day long that following comics is no more or less nerdy than being able to recite your favorite team and player's stat history, but when it comes down to it, there are way more dudes into football than there are into comics.

I'm hoping the rise of superhero movies will mean that eventually there will be a flip of some sort, and the majority of the public will get really into superheroes and comics. Maybe people will wear their favorite superhero's (or hero team's) logo on a shirt. They'll discuss their latest fan theories over beers at parties, have their favorite writers and artists' stats memorized. They'll debate which eras of their favorite comics were the best.

Maybe they'll even start, like, a Little League Fantasy Superhero Team League, like a superhero LARPing game. I'll go to my son or daughter's first event and cheer them on as they battle some rival team in a pre-determined scenario. I'll boo refs over bad calls and get increasingly drunk, eventually being expelled from the game for getting belligerent with the team leader for not playing my son more.

"She's a natural!" I'll bellow as they usher me out. "You're squandering her talents benching her!"