Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Sure I was born a few miles from ESPN, but....
I'm a sports moron. And anyone who knows me is aware of this fact. Ask me who won the game last night, and I will answer with the final score after my daughter beat me in Scrabble. As a general rule of thumb, if there's a sporting event held on a weekly basis and shown on TV, I have no clue that it's happening. I can't tell you who the Giants played last week. I heard the Phillies won the" series last season, but never saw a single game. I have no idea what it means to be in the pocket", what A-Rod's real name is, or what the hell NASCAR stands for.
And I just don't care.
Sure, this got me beaten up regularly in school. I think my parents tried to help me out a bit by suggesting I join the golf team in high school, but that seemed to just get me beaten up more severely. And these days, during lunch at the office when the guys start bitching about the latest draft pick, I tend to focus a little more closely on my Chunky Soup in hopes no one calls on me for an opinion. I like to think that all the brain power spent memorizing RBI's and batting averages from the pages of Sports Illustrated could be better spent on more productive pursuits, like how to most efficiently utilize the extra space in the kitchen pantry the next time the wife finds a sale on couscous.
Over the years, however, I have realized that it takes a little bit of effort on my part to not be considered entirely socially inept. As the saying goes, "when in Rome, watch the game." 15 years of living in Pittsburgh has made me painfully aware that there is really only one sport I need to follow in order to be accepted by my neighbors. That sport, of course, is football. And to make it a little easier, it's only important to know about the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, on any given Sunday (heh, how's that for a sports reference?), I will turn the Steelers game on in the background while I rearrange my sock drawer. I might even glance at the TV once in a while.
But watching the game is a recent change in my habits. I remember back when my wife and I were still dating, she and I went to a restaurant for dinner and ended up waiting at the bar for our table. A townie sitting next to me said something to the affect of, "Ey man, y'inz see that game last night n'at?" I turned to him, gave him a smile, and proceeded to provide the guy with complete details of the game from the night before, right down to how I thought the quarterback's passing game was slightly off, and that the wide receiver should never have dropped that pass from the 30. He patted me on the back with a "ubetcha" sort of comment, and then we were off to our table. Hilary stared at me, fully aware of my disinterest in commercial sports, and wondering how on earth I knew what to say to this man. "Easy," I told her. "Every morning I listen to news radio on the way into work, and pay attention to the morning sports report for exactly this reason. Same reason we keep a fire extinguisher in the house...to use in case of emergency." I believe Hilary gave me the same look that Linda Kozlowski gave Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee when he fought off muggers with the classic line, "That's not a knife....THIS is a knife."
Many of my friends are aware of my sporting deficit. My high school buddies, who keep me on their discussion emails each day after a game just to see what stupid comment I can come up with, felt it incredibly pathetic that I only own one piece of sporting apparel, a black mock-T with a Baltimore Ravens logo on it which I got as a gag gift (there's a strange rivalry between fans of the Steelers and fans of the Ravens, and according to the county charter all Ravens fans should be put to death immediately). I didn't get the joke. So one of my buddies actually bought and mailed me a Troy Palamalu jersey. Cool. I loved that Muppets sketch.