Tag Archives: sports fans

Super Sunday? Scary Sunday!

3 Feb


It’s Super Bowl weekend in Boston. Let me say that again. It’s Super Bowl weekend. In Boston.

I’m going to admit this publicly–wait, let me pull the shades first so no one can see me typing this: I am not a Patriots fan.

I’m not a fan of most Boston teams, to be honest. Bruins excepted. I don’t really care about basketball, so I am neither here nor there on the Celtics. I’m not a Red Sox fan because I don’t believe in the American League, and I don’t like the Patriots, because–and let me completely date myself here–Super Bowl XX, da Bears 46, the Patriots 10. Never mind that the Bears today are playing more like the Chicago Chipmunks and that the Pats are clearly one of the best teams in the game.

But I just can’t like them. Much like my philosophy on baseball, I am not a fan of the AFC, although, unlike baseball, there’s no good reason except the fact that I grew up near an NFC team. Still, loyalty runs deep, and I’m not prone to root for

The other big reason I don’t like the Pats is because Boston fans can get violent really quickly, no matter what the sport. Last year, the Boy and I took his Pistons-loving mom to the Celtics-Pistons game and happened to be sitting in front of a bunch of Pistons fans (good deal for us). A couple of Celtics fans about seven rows down started getting into it with these Detroit fans, yelling back at us throughout the game. When the Pistons won, one of them actually wanted to fight these guys. Are you kidding me?! Fighting someone because “your” team lost?!

The Pats fans are even scarier because of the cult of personality surrounding Tom Brady, quarterback, ball deflator, Mr. Giselle Bundchen, nightshade avoider, or GOAT, depending on what you think. To fans, he’s “Tommy.”

The Boy and I went to our favorite bar for dinner one Sunday last year, and we stumbled into the end of the Pats-Giants game. The Patriots were still undefeated at this point, and New York was ahead. The bar was packed, and people were going crazy yelling for Brady. Think your classic blue-collar Boston accent begging, “C’mon Tommy!” One man in his twenties was close to tears at the concept of a loss. The Pats pulled it out at the end, and we avoided being stuck in a crowd of disappointed Pats fans. That experience was eye-opening to us, and one reason we don’t like being out when the Pats are playing.

It’s not just the guys though. Pats fans are equal-opportunity scary. I recently joined a curling club, and one of the other new members is a big Pats fan. When I wore a Pitt sweatshirt the week before the playoff game against the Steelers, she warily asked if I was a fan. I quickly realized my mistake in wardrobe choices.

As the Pats secured their place in the Super Bowl, we got to see her Pats designer purse, her special Patriots manicure–and the shirts that she wouldn’t wear when they were actually playing (no one in her family does) because if she did, they would lose.

Oh, I get it. Every team has crazy fans–I mean, even Chicago has funky super fans, and fans of every team have odd superstitions that they follow to a T so their team will win–but I’ve never felt the dangerous edge to that fandom that I feel here.

I finally realized my fear yesterday when I was on the phone with a client in Atlanta. When we started talking about the football game, I found myself hunching over my phone so no one would hear me talk. I work alone. In a home office. There’s likely no chance that even anyone walking by would hear me (notice how I say “likely no chance”).

But I can’t live my life in fear, so I’m speaking out now. I won’t cheer for the home team on Sunday. Instead, I’ll lock myself inside on Sunday with some good football snacks and silently root for Atlanta, because even if da Bears can’t be there, the NFC should win.

[EXTRA] This Is Next Year

3 Nov

I discovered baseball when I was in the third grade–the joys of watching professional baseball, that is. My team? The Chicago Cubs. Pa Jaracz was a Cubs fan, and sports was our way of bonding–Cubs, Bears, golf, Indy car racing. It was what we watched together.

He took me to my first game in 1982–Baseball Card Day (I still have the set). I got to go to an Opening Day (rained out, naturally), and a few others with him.

Of course, little did I know that choosing to become a Cubs fan would be an exercise in futility. When the Cubs lost, they lost big. When the Cubs won, they figured out how to lose it all. 1984, 1989, 2003…all years that were bright spots of heartbreak among the dismal years of failure.

But they were still my Cubbies.

I lived in Chicago for 15 years and would usually catch at least one game a year. It didn’t matter where I sat or stood–it was just magical to escape from the city and be within this little sanctuary where time moved slowly. Where you could have a hot dog and a beer and keep score (if you’re single and interested in meeting someone who also has a passion for baseball, I highly recommend learning how to keep score. It can be a total turn on).

For the last five years, the Boy and I lived within the Wrigleyville neighbor zone. Close enough to be annoyed by all of the traffic the games caused, but far away enough to not deal with the public urination of idiotic attendees who didn’t really watch the game; they basically walked around with stacks of empty plastic beer cups. If the wind was right, you could hear the crowd cheer and know it was time to check in on the game.

One year we won the Wrigley Field neighbor lottery and got to spend an a few hours at the park, playing catch on the field (I PLAYED CATCH ON WRIGLEY FIELD!) and eating hot dogs. To this day, it’s one of my favorite memories of living in Chicago.

The Boy really isn’t into baseball, so regular season viewing tends to be what I catch in bars and am tracking on my phone, but during these Playoffs, we started watching the games religiously. During the series against the Dodgers where the Cubs lost 1-0, the old heartbreak started looming in my chest. I still hoped, but I knew we were losing that game–and that it spelled trouble.

But this year’s Cubs didn’t let that get to them. The next day they completely turned it around and crushed them. That might be the point where I really knew it would happen, because I decided to make a W flag, and after every win, I made the Boy get the stepladder and hang it from our porch. Even though some losses made me a little ambivalent, I never again got that feeling of despair that I had with that Dodgers game.

This weekend I’m leading a crew of officials for the WFTDA International Roller Derby Championships. While the Cubs were heading back to Cleveland to close out the series, I reminded my crew that some of us would be watching Game 6 and Game 7, and remember to get some sleep (the games ended brutally late on the East Coast). The one other Cubs fan on my crew loved that I knew we’d be going seven games. The rest of them indulged me.

You couldn’t ask for a better, crazier way to get that final win–this year’s Cubbies knew how to hold it together on defense; they knew how to create offense; they made it happen. It’s inspirational, really–a great lesson at keeping your head in the game, believing in yourself and your talents and making things happen.

Between the joy and the cheering of the generations of Cubs fans who witnessed history, there are tears for the all of the die-hard Cubs fans who didn’t get to live to see this moment.

What makes me love the Cubbies even more is the fact that they honor those fans. They won it for them, of course, but they won it for us too, and the organization understood that they also won it for the greats who weren’t able to win it. They won it for the broadcasters who helped create some of the most beloved traditions in baseball (want to see the 7th inning stretch on national TV? Be at Wrigley. Want a fountain of tears? Announce Eddie Vedder as leading “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and have him introduce Harry Caray singing via Jumbotron).

A day later, and it’s still a little surreal. I’m so used to not winning that it’s hard to believe that it happened. But it did–we no longer have to say, “Wait ’till next year.” Though with a team that’s this good, I can’t wait until next year to see what they can do.

Postcard from Pittsburgh

13 Apr

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Watch out, hockey fans! There’s a new goalie in town, and she’s so tough, she can block your pucks without needing a helmet!

I’m old enough to shudder at the thought of a hockey puck whizzing at my bare head, let alone be agile enough on hockey skates while wearing copious amounts of pads to stop a puck, so I think it’s safe to say that the National Hockey League needn’t fear my arrival on the scene.

I was in Steel City this weekend to officiate four roller derby bouts: Steel City vs. Boston (A and B teams) on Saturday, and Boston vs. Ohio (A and B teams) on Sunday. These were really great match ups, as Steel, Boston and Ohio are all pretty close to each other in the WFTDA rankings, which made for exciting games that were a lot of fun to officiate. I also got to work with some officiating buddies I don’t get to see often enough and meet some new, very promising officials, All in all, a good four games.

During some free time on Saturday morning, I got a glimpse of Pittsburgh’s sports mania. The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum takes up a big chunk of two floors of the Heinz History Center, and while it tackles Pittsburgh’s love of the Steelers (or “Stillers,” as yinz should pronounce them), the Penguins and the Pirates, it also showcases some more niche sports like boxing, rowing, swimming and marbles (Pittsburgh touts 26 National Marble Champs, plus 8 more from Allegheny County). There’s even space dedicated to a sport called balf–which, if roller derby is niche, this combo of baseball and golf is extremely niche–so niche that the U.S. Balf Association no longer seems to exist.

Outside along the Strip District, it was all pro sports, with multiple sports stores touting all the fan gear you could ever want. The piles of shirts, hats and tchotchkes spilled out onto the streets and dared you to walk down the sidewalks without getting caught up in the frenzy of Pittsburgh sports. Get your Terrible Towels, your athlete jerseys and every form of bedazzled sports shirt imaginable. Show your allegiance. Be a fan. It’s sports time, a good time, and you’re required to participate.

The Sports “Fan” at Post-Season Time

10 Oct

Although my husband will attest to being an American male, he does not enjoy the traditional American male hobby of watching sports. “I prefer participating,” he says. I have to give him credit for that, although I’m sure if “Monday Night Fencing” was popular in this country, he’d be the first to grab a big bowl of chips and plant himself on the couch to watch it.

I, on the other hand, do enjoy watching baseball, football, and hockey. Even though I now live in Massachusetts, I’m a Chicago fan at heart. The Patriots? Please. Do I have to remind you of the 46-10 routing my Chicago Bears gave them at Super Bowl XX? [note: the next Super Bowl will be number XLVII. The Bears have won precisely zero Super Bowls since then, while the Patriots have won three. It doesn’t matter though – the Patriots will never have as great a team as the 1985 Bears. Even ESPN says so!]

The Bruins? Well, my love of friendly wagers taught me never to bet against the Blackhawks again. Not that I minded the Blackhawks winning, but I learned a valuable lesson during this year’s Stanley Cup.

The Red Sox? I don’t believe in the American League. Period. Oh, Fenway’s cool, sure, but it’s still home to an inferior team. Yep, you’ve guessed it — I’m a Cubs fan. I do accept pity and condolences.

The Boy hails from Michigan, so by default he’s a Lions, Tigers, and (sadly) a Red Wings fan. He probably would take offense to me calling it “default,” and spit out a bunch of statistics that prove his loyalty. I know better.

Even though I am a sports fan, because the Boy isn’t into sports watching (and I have no office pool to bet in), I don’t pay as much attention to sports as I used to. I do watch when we’re at a bar, and if I’m working out on the elliptical or treadmill, I’ll put on ESPN or NESN, but I don’t pay as close attention to results, standings and playoffs as I used to. This year though, we kind of have to since the Red Sox are doing well in the playoffs (note: We also can’t call them the “Sox,” because the Sox are the Sox. We actually saw a Red Sox vs. Sox game this summer. Red Sox won. This North Sider thought that was OK). That news is pretty much everywhere. I’ve tried to engage the Boy in some kind of baseball talk–his team is in it too, and it’s all on the line for them tonight–but because of his fair-weatherness, I get to toy with him and have conversations like this.

Me: So if it’s the Red Sox vs. the Tigers in the playoffs, who are you routing for?

The Boy: The Tigers!

Me: You know who I’m routing for? <beat> The Cubs. Just wait ’till next year, baby!

The Boy: <shakes head> Indeed.

Hey, at least I don’t force him to become a sports widower.

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