Friday, April 27, 2012

Too Into Sports?

*Some of you might be surprised that people think that I really like sports. It has been a passion of mine since I was a kid, which is somewhat strange since neither of my parents are what you would consider sports crazy. I blame the obsession on a couple of factors. 1) My parents didn't want me to play violent video games (ex. Mortal Kombat), so instead I bought and played games like Madden and NBA Live. 2) I grew up in Mississippi, which is a state that tends to more heavily weigh athletic success as opposed to academic success. I am sure there are others reasons, but regardless of how it happened it has been a defining characteristic of mine. I love watching, analyzing, debating and generally thinking about basketball, football and baseball.

*And by some I mean none.

Now is this a problem? Should I take it as a criticism when someone offers their critique that I am "too into sports?" Even if I wanted to (which I don't) change my interest in sports I am not sure it is possible. I have built too much around my life around this characteristic. Many close friends have been become close friends because we both share a mutual interest in watching games between players we have never met. Do you know how many Sundays I've watched the mediocre at best Dolphins play with a friend that ended up being a groomsman in my wedding? Or how many times the best man in my wedding has told the story about me elbowing him in the face during a basketball drill?

There are certainly negatives about being "too into sports." The highs are extra high (think Austin Rivers shot against UNC) and the lows are beyond depressing. Normally I like to think of myself as rational, calm individual, but when it comes to sporting events there is a reason I normally like to watch the big games alone. Also, these sporting events can come into conflict with normal life plans. M knows that March is not the month to plan anything, and that if we go to a place like the arboretum on a Sunday then I probably will be checking my phone for fantasy football updates. I can certainly be selfish and unreasonable when I want to watch certain games.

Still I don't think the negatives that come from following sports have negatively affected my life. I might have to make certain adjustments in day to day activities, but last I check I have a wife I love, a job I enjoy and friends that I can trust. Most days I am genuinely happy and content with how things are going.

I don't mind the negatives when you weigh them against the positives that come from being too into sports. It has given the ability to make conversation with almost any person who follows sports on even a casual basis. This has proven to be very valuable in small take situations like sorority formals (in the past of course), double dates or basically any time I need to talk to some random guy. But beyond that I have made a lot of friends that share the same language as me when we talk about sports. I can make a detailed, sarcastic, very narrow comment over email or text that is immediately understood and communicated back in appropriate manner. This might not make any sense, and probably would make less sense if you saw some of the conversations we've had over seemingly random players or events.

Also, sports have proven to be one of those things in life that hasn't soured in old age. Watching a game still provides that child-like joy of not knowing what will happen in a game (a 17 point underdog winning the MAC title) or a single moment (Doug Penno's shot against Akron). Watching those moments or a team like the 2010 Duke basketball team meet their absolute 100% most optimistic projection make all the 2nd round picks wasted on QBs and trades like the Santana for Gomez for Hardy for Hoey worth it. I enjoy watching sports and until the negatives outweigh the positives then I will continue to follow them with a passion that I wish other people would show in what interests them.

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