Having been brought up in Connecticut (The Land Without Sports) and not being from a sport-centric family, any friend of mine will tell you I'm atheleticially challenged. I don't know my MLB from my AFC, my two-minute warning from my seventh-inning stretch. I've been living in Pittsburgh (The Land of Black Milk and Golden Honey) for about a dozen years now, and I still don't get it. Only this year have I begun watching the Steelers play, simply because I've gotten tired of not having an answer to the age old question, "y'inz watch the game n'at yesterday?" (and because it's much more fun to watch in hi-def). I still struggle, however, to comprehend the massive force that is the passion of the average Pittsburgh sports fan, but I think it's got something to do with Myron Cope.
Which leads me to today's topic. Yesterday we, as a family, along with some friends of ours, watched the Steelers barely hold the lead for a playoff win against the Colts. Even I can say that the game was worth a few doses from the defibrillator towards the end. And poor Natalie was set back about 18 months in getting out of her "startle reflex", after being so frightened by the yelling and screaming of my buddy Mike (an avid fan and lifelong Pittsburgher, and therefore one of those crazies) that she tried desperately to climb back into mommy's womb several times just in the first half.
During the game, I had to answer Natalie's occasional question about how the game is played:
Steelers! Steelers! Dad, why did they tackle him?
Cuz, that's the point of the game.
But doesn't that hurt?
Well, yeah, probably.
Wouldn't it be more fun if they got along better?
Go get me a beer.
Dad, what happened?
He intercepted the ball, then fumbled it, but recovered his own fumble.
What's an interception?
If I throw the ball to mommy but you catch it, you intercepted.
So, what's a fumble?
You dropped it.
you pick it up again.
Why'd he drop it?
It slipped out of his hands.
Was the ball slippery?
So, shouldn't he have held onto it?
I think you're starting to get it.
Dad, what's a first down?
Well, that's when the team advances the ball past that yellow line. It sort of gives them a first turn again.
But how come the line keeps moving?
Well, the line's not really there. It's just shown on the TV, but the players can't see it.
If they can't see it, how do they know when to stop running?
They don't stop until they make it to the end or are tackled.
So why do they need a first down then?
Go read a book.
Dad, what are those words and numbers on their shirts?
That's so you know who's who. See #36? his name is Jerome Bettis.
So, why is he number 36?
They looked deep into his soul, and assigned him a number based on the order in which he joined?
Dad, what are you talking about??
Not a Simpsons fan, I guess?
What's a false start?
Someone on the team started moving before they said "hike".
They're going on a hike?
No, they just say "hike" to start the play.
They're just playing?
No, the play, it's when they first start moving.
Dad, when's this going to be over? I want to watch Dora.