What do sports mean? It’s just a game right? Not to me.
Sports are many things to many people – obsession, indifference, camaraderie, diversion, god, community, simple entertainment, or – tragically – a passive-aggressive form of spousal abuse.
Sports are the moments they create. I’m not talking about the moments on the field. I’m talking about the moments that arise in the stadiums or – far more often – the basements or the living rooms where they are watched with family and friends.
Sports are sitting on my dad’s lap, watching the Red Sox on the nearly 100 degree Thursday that I got home from the hospital as a newborn baby. (I remember it like it was yesterday!)
Sports are the comforting hug my dad gave me after Aaron Boone broke our hearts in 2003 and my Michigan-born cousin, Brittany, insightfully declared, “It’s okay guys. It’s just a game.”
Sports are the very different hug we shared a year later. “Well,” Dad told me, “the Red Sox won the World Series and Grandpa got to see it. Sleep well tonight.” As short-term New England expatriates in Maryland, we searched the greater-Gaithersburg area to find the World Series T-Shirts we had ached to wear for so long.
Sports are my Mom, without a second thought, delaying the birth of my brother Grant by a day so we could watch the Patriots win their first Super Bowl together at home in our living room. The doctor said that they needed to induce labor, and that they had an opening on Sunday night. My mom said: “Sunday night? Don’t you know that the Super Bowl is Sunday night? How about Monday?” That Sunday night I sat with my knee in an immobilizer after ACL surgery and saw my Dad leap for joy as an Adam Vinatieri field goal split the uprights. The mighty Rams were defeated and Lonie Paxton made a “snow angel” in a dome.
Grant was born during the parade.
Sports are every member of the family sitting in the same seat for every game of an entire playoff run. They are making signs that we hung over the TV, with the full persuasion that the sign was a major contributor to the victory. Tom Brady was 10-0 in the playoffs until the one year we didn’t make a sign. Just saying….
Sports are my sister Abigail doing every detail of the scorebook on every Red Sox playoff game for the last four October runs. She doesn’t alter her efforts based on the state of the game. She’ll sit in front of a heart-breaking demolition, where the Red Sox are being mercilessly blown out, and record every pitch. The scorecards she has framed make it all worth it.
Sports are a Wes Welker game-winning touchdown launching a six year old Grant off the arm of the couch with a shout of glee and a carelessly abandoned certainty that I will catch him.
Sports are many things to many people.
To me – sports are family.