I had several comments in response to the 5/17/13 blog entry, so I asked Kim if I could simply write my own blog entry. This is coming a little later in the day than I had hoped because we have had some air conditioning drama (which, when you live in the desert, is no small thing), but here are some comments in response to Kim’s blog about Scotty and sports.
First, I very much enjoy playing sports. I don’t play as much as I did when I was younger, but I’ve always enjoyed playing sports. Where Kim and I differ is that I hate running. If I have to run (i.e. to play basketball or catch a fly ball) to compete in a sporting event, that’s fine. But I have never been a fan of running just to run. That’s one of the reasons I was never in track or cross country. You run so that the next day you can come back and run the exact same distance a little faster. And that goes on for months. No thanks!
Having said that, I will confess that I have always enjoyed watching sports. For me, the best part about sports is the drama of the competition. When someone hits a 20-foot putt to win his first major championship, and he jumps around and hugs anyone he can find because he knows that this moment just changed his life, that’s pretty cool to watch. When you see young men and women literally giving everything they have to try to achieve something that most people will never have an opportunity to even attempt, that’s pretty compelling.
Most of the reasons that I love sports developed at an early age. Not surprisingly, my father was a big sports fan as well, and I can still remember watching the 1980 Olympic Hockey game against the Soviets, or watching Magic Johnson start at center out of necessity and then lead the Lakers to the title, or watching Fernando Valenzuela pitch for the Dodgers in 1981, coming out of nowhere to lead them to the World Series. I was young, but those memories have stuck with me my entire life.
But sports are not all championships and great feelings. For every Kirk Gibson home run in the World Series, there are corresponding rough moments. I’ll never forget where I was when Magic Johnson retired and told the world that he had HIV. That was a rough day, because he was one of my heroes growing up. I’ll never forget the disillusionment I felt about Brett Favre, not when he decided to come back necessarily, but when he decided to play for the Vikings and came back to Lambeau Field in a rival uniform.
Then there are the “normal” losses. Most of the time, the teams I root for do not win the championship. I’ve been fortunate that I attended a school (Duke) that seemingly is in contention every year, but that also makes it that much more disappointing when they do not win. Same for the Packers, Dodgers, Lakers (especially this year, ugh!) and NY Rangers. For context, I root for the Packers because I was born in Green Bay, I obviously went to Duke, I’ve been a Dodgers and Lakers fan since the aforementioned games in the early 80’s (I also tend to be pretty loyal once I start rooting for a team, thus why I’m languishing with the Dodgers…), and I became a Rangers fan after they hired US Olympic Hockey coach Herb Brooks in 1981 (and yes, I do know the speech he gave the 1980 Olympic Hockey team by heart…).
But really, what keeps me hooked and what I believe is the real beauty of sports is the moments that sports produce. I like to think that’s what has gotten Scotty’s attention as well. Nothing else in life produces great moments in the same way. As a Duke fan and alum, there’s nothing that can replicate Laettner’s shot to beat Kentucky in 1992. The Nate Poole catch that Kim referenced in her blog was the last play of the season, and a couple of players who barely had a cup of coffee in the NFL made a play in a game that had no impact on their season (the Cardinals finished 5-11 after that win). But, the play saved Green Bay’s season, just days after Brett Favre’s father passed away, and that moment, even in a season that did not see the Packers win the Super Bowl, was perfect. This is ultimately the reason why people love the NCAA Basketball tournament so much. Most people have a pretty good idea which of 4-5 teams is going to win, but the tournament produces so many great moments that it becomes must-see television every March.
We don't know if Scotty will be good at sports, but he’s going to play because I believe that sports teach life lessons and provide experiences that you cannot get anywhere else. When he’s older, I’ll probably see if he wants to get season tickets to local college basketball or football or maybe even the AAA baseball team (if they get the new stadium everyone is talking about). I hope he enjoys sports as much as I do, but if not, that’s OK too, but either way, it’ll be pretty cool to have a little guy to share some of the great moments sports can produce with.
Anyway, thanks for reading my minor contribution to my wife’s blog. Hopefully, it provides a little flavor for why I enjoy sports as much as I do. A lot of authors like to close with a quote, and since I already teased you with it a couple of paragraphs ago, here is one of the very best:
Great moments are born from great opportunity.
And that's what you have here tonight, boys.
That's what you've earned here, tonight.
If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine.
But not this game. Not tonight.
Tonight, we skate with 'em.
Tonight, we stay with 'em, and we shut them down because we can!
Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world.
You were born to be hockey players -- every one of ya.
And you were meant to be here tonight.
This is your time.
Their time -- is done. It's over.
I'm sick and tired of hearin' about what a great hockey team the Soviets have.
This is your time!!
Now go out there and take it!