Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How to Enjoy Sports (for the non-sports fan)

Last week Danny and I went to a basketball game. I’m not particularly into basketball but I’m always up for doing something new and I can get into live sporting events the way I can enjoy a band live even though I know I won’t buy the CD.

My interest in sports is minimal. I’m proud when the team from my alma mater wins the championship. I watched Emmitt Smith on Dancing with the Stars and Tom Brady on Saturday Night Live. I usually vaguely know when something is “in season.” For instance, I know that if it’s Monday night and the TV is not turned on, it is not football season. I know that basketball season has rolled around when, during every commercial break, Danny tells me to flip to such and such channel to check the score.

Going to a Gator game presents a bit of a wardrobe crisis for me. See, EVERYONE wears Orange and Blue and if you’re wearing anything else you might as well be wearing a big sign that says “I don’t belong here.” I learned this the hard way a few years ago when I accidently wore the opposing teams colors to a football game.

The problem is, I don’t own anything Orange and Blue. So for last week's game, the best I could do was my jean jacket and a white shirt with orange letters that says, Nobody puts baby in a corner.

I got by. Mostly by virtue of my being a very good "copy clapper". When other people clap, I clap. When everyone makes a disappointed Ohhhhhhh, I make a disappointed Ohhhhhh. I blend right in. That is until some other copy clapper (or possibly drunk freshman) gets excited at the wrong time and makes me blow my cover.

“Why are you clapping? Our team just got a penalty.”
“Oh, um, well they’re taking it really well and I just wanted… to give them some encouragement?”

Danny thought that one of the players on the other team looked like the bad guy from an 80s high school movie. Which was, a) true; and b) exactly what I needed to actually enjoy the game. (It’s possible Danny knew I’d only be happy if I had something to make jokes about.)

So we joked about his spiky, gelled black hair, his scowl, his black wrist bands and Chinese character tattoo. He was sort of like a sporty version of the tough guy from Breakfast Club. I imagined him calling his buddies, amigos even though he doesn’t speak Spanish, and making up new words for cool like, Slicin’(as in, did you go to Tiffany’s party last night? It was Slicin’ bro).

Even his name, Ryan Amaroso, sounds like someone who belongs to a fake gang that’s gonna kick Ralph Macchio’s ass in Karate Kid. Danny said he heard him challenge the Gator forward to a skateboard-off after the game. (Slicin’!)

Our little game gave me a connection to a sporting event I’ve never had before. I was actually upset when Ryan scored. I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice person, but in my head he was the enemy of all that’s wholesome and good (or at least what’s wholesome and good in a John Hughes movie).

Now that I know what it takes for me to enjoy a sporting event, look for me at future match-ups, casting the players and coaches into stereotypical pop culture movie roles.

I may even buy something orange and blue. Something slicin’

P.S. I looked at this picture FIVE times before I realized Ryan is balancing a guinea pig on his head. Yeah. I can’t make this shit up.

1 comment:

James Ford said...

Sweep the leg, Stephanie... sweep the leg.

I sympathize. I am an American male who hates sports (although, ironically, loves sports movies (and welled up, note, did not cry, during WE ARE MARSHALL last weekend)). Don't you judge me.

The number of sporting events I have been to can be counted on my fingers. Now here is the kick in the ass: because my sister-in-law is a muckety muck at ClosetMaid on occassion she gets use of the company's skybox. They have several. Depending on the season I'll get a call from my brother if I want to watch a free game and I say 'yes' because I can only stare at my blue walls for so long. We drive to Tampa, Jacksonville, Gainesville, etc and take our seats in the skybox with the catered food, air conditioning and free swag.

One Monday after a big game the President of the bank I worked at asked me if I watched the game and I told him I was there and he asked me where my seat was and I told him in the skybox and he just looked at me like I told him his mom has a rockin' ass. He asked how I got there and I told him.

"How many Gator games have you been to, Jim?"

"Four," I responded.

"How many times have you been in the skybox?"

"Three," I answered.

"Can you name any of the players on that team?"

"No," I said.

"You do know there are people who have sat in those bleachers for generations and their dream is to watch a game from that box?"

"No. I didn't know that. I never thought about it."

"Let me put this in terms you can understand. It would be like if I got to go to Skywalker Ranch."

I gasped. From that day on I was referred to as Skybox Jim.

Later, after a very big game when I was invited and declined, the Vice President asked what I was doing that was more important. I told him I had tickets for Spider-Man movie I have been waiting for since 1994.

That day he called me Skybox Jim and an idiot.