I had a brief exchange with a Facebook friend the other day. The friend is a baseball fan; I am not. To be truthful, I’m not much of a fan of any sport. OK, I’ll watch the occasional hockey game, and once in a while I’ll turn on a Canadian Football League game, but on the whole, my life proceeds very well without watching any sports, whether on TV or live.
It hasn’t always been so. In my first year of university, some of the great events of my first year living in residence were the football parties. A black-and-white TV, several pizzas, and the inevitable and (then-illegal) cases of beer. And all sorts of guys hanging around having a good time. The action on the fuzzy screen was almost incidental. I’ve never played football, except a couple of ill-advised forays into “touch” football, both of which ended with many bruises and sore joints for most participants.
I used to watch the Edmonton Oilers on TV, back in the glory days of the ’80’s w
hen Wayne Gretzky was in his prime. I enjoyed the daring and skill the team displayed, even if I’ve never really understood the game’s subtleties. My love for the Oilers started to wane when Gretzky was traded to LA in 1988. The only other hockey I ever watched much of was my home town’s senior team, the Drumheller Miners, who won the Allan Cup in 1966. My father was the team physician, and got free admission. I went to a lot of the games with him, sitting in the high bleachers behind the goal. The ambiance counted more for me than the game. As I said, I’ve never really grasped the subtleties of the game.
Hockey is only one game that I don’t really get. Truth be told, I don’t really get any of the common team sports, which may be because I was never any good at any of them, or any other athletic pursuit, team or otherwise. As a child, I was clumsy, slow, and badly coordinated, and Physical Education in school was usually something akin to torture: I couldn’t do most of what we were asked to do, and my classmates teased me endlessly about my incompetence.
There’s good reason why I don’t relate well to sports!
I still find myself getting caught up in others’ excitement about sporting events, because it seems to have something important to do with community. The great days watching football with my university buddies were great times of community. The rejoicing over the Oilers’ Stanley Cup victories was a collective party for the whole of this city.
If you like a sport, well and good. If you care deeply about it, that’s your business. I’ll try not to rain on your parade by revealing my lack of interest in something that you love very much. All I ask is that you be tolerant of me when my eyes glaze over as you discuss the accomplishments (or lack thereof) of your favorite team or player.
I get excited by other things (classical music, church history and politics, food, photography…), and I know that my own passions can provoke the same kind of glazed-eye response as much of sports talk evokes in me. It takes all kinds to make a world, and that’s good.
Whether it’s sports, music, knitting, or whatever, let’s try to rejoice in each other’s passions, without trying to make our own passion someone else’s.