Unless you don't know me very well, you probably already know that I've never been a sports fan...though the reasons why may be unclear. I used to say that it was because I wasn't raised around them, but not only is that not a valid excuse, it's also not exactly true. Other reasons I've given have been everything from, "I just don't understand them," to...well, there's too many to list. I realize that such an opinion puts me at odds with many people, especially those who share my gender. To be honest, I do know quite a few guys who either don't care for sports or are only minor fans--that is, they like it, but they rarely watch it or keep track of it--but, there's no getting around the fact that the majority of the United States population loves their ball games. I had said at the start of this series of blog posts that it was meant to help me understand why I do what I do as well as inform you of the same; now, I'm ready to share some thoughts I've compiled in my mind as to why I've never been a sports fan.
First off: I'm just not a rough-and-tumble kind of guy. I have never taken kindly to being physically hurt, even in a painful way; when I was younger, I used to always threaten to call the police on others and have them charged with assault if they got the least bit physically rough with me. I'd like to say that tendency has gone away...but, I still find such behaviors just as bothersome. I wouldn't call 911 on someone for hitting me, but I definitely wouldn't be too happy about it. It's not that I'm averse to physical contact; if you've seen me at church, you know I'm hugging and shaking hands like crazy every time I go there. I don't even mind a tap on the shoulder, as long as it isn't done with malicious intent; I just don't want to get rough.
You probably know that, over the years, I've had many different heroes: actresses, singers/musicians, cartoon characters, video game characters, etc. What you may not have realized is that none of them were known for attributes such as physical strength or other athletic traits; at least, not in a realistic way. I never admired sports greats such as Michael Jordan or Sammy Sosa that much; in fact, I barely even knew who they were. More to the point, I never aspired to do things that would involve great physical strength; it was never in my plans to become an athlete, a soldier, or even an Eagle Scout, the latter of which was much to my sister's chagrin. People tried to help me learn such skills, but it never went anywhere...because my heart just wasn't in it.
I remember a scene in The Princess Diaries where Mia is struggling as usual in gym class. When she seems overwhelmed by the other kids kicking soccer balls, the P.E. teacher says, "Just block one, Mia! Just block one!" Mia replies with, "I can't do this; I'm a girl," to which the teacher--a woman--responds, "What am I, a duck?" Mia quickly answers with, "No! I mean...you're an athletic girl.
I am a synchronized swimming,
My hand-eye coordination
is zero." It's true that many women are athletes; even non-traditional sports such as figure skating require serious talent and strength. I'd consider Kristi Yamaguchi--look her up if you don't know who she is--to be just as much of an athlete as anyone in the NFL. Still, just as the celluloid princess said, there are different types of girls...and I'd go as far as saying there are different types of guys as well. Some are meant to be soldiers; others, actors and/or singers; still others, librarians. (Okay, so, I'm not technically a librarian, but I do plan on becoming one someday.) Some would call guys like me wimps, but, even Romans 12:6-8 talks about all of us having different gifts, aka talents.
Second off: I have trouble understanding the intricacies of sports. I'm not talking about the rules; I'm sure that, with practice, I could understand the workings of the games. What I'm talking about is the rivalries. Since I wasn't raised in a home where we always rooted for one team, I'm at a loss to figure out what makes one better than another. You could tell me why your team is the best, but another friend could make an argument that's just as convincing for a completely different team.
All the way back in 2000, the Virginia Tech football team made it to a big championship, an occasion that had people all over my area talking. Not only did our local ABC affiliate bombard viewers with advertisements celebrating it, but my mom even watched the big game, and she isn't any more of a sports fan than I am. It turned out that Tech lost...which came as a shock to me. With everyone around me singing their praises, how on earth could they lose? I later realized that I viewed it as a good-versus-evil kind of thing. Virginia Tech may have been a big deal around where I live, but, they weren't the Power Rangers or Spider-Man, nor was the opposing team Rita Repulsa or the Green Goblin; it was a college football game, not a battle to save our planet from utter destruction. That right there illustrates the subjectivity of sports: Who are the good guys? Depends on who you ask.
Third off: I'm too sensitive for sports. This kind of ties in with the first point, but, it applies to being a spectator as well. Some of you may remember this story, but, I'm going to share it anyway: All the way back in December 1999, I went with my church's youth group to a Hampton Roads Admirals hockey game. They were playing against some team I'd never heard of; Johnstown, or something like that. At first, the Admirals were winning...then, Johnstown got ahead...then, towards the end of the game, the Admirals got in the lead again. The crowd was going wild, and I was happy for them...but, at the same time, I wondered how Johnstown felt, and kind of felt bad for them. If you're a sports fan, you're no doubt saying, "There's no emotions like that in sports." I understand that completely; that's why I'm not a fan. It's different when we're talking superheroes vs. supervillains; the latter are usually bent on world destruction or other dastardly plans, which is exactly why they need to be defeated...but, if your team loses the big game, would that cause the entire United States to be enslaved? Didn't think so.
Fourth off: I don't quite understand the appeal of sports. All over the world, sports are a big deal; even other countries celebrate their athletes just as much as we do ours. Some guys watch nothing on television but sports. I once heard a discussion between two teachers and a classmate at my high school about a rumor that Cox--the only cable provider in our area at the time--was considering making ESPN a digital-cable-only channel. One teacher, who was a big-time fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, said such a decision would cause him to switch to a satellite provider. The classmate of mine argued that ESPN was the main reason every male subscribed to cable...and, for the most part, he was probably right; however, the only cable channel I really bothered with was, of course, the Disney Channel.
It's not that I haven't tried my hand at sports; I have...but, when I did, I didn't enjoy them. Many of you reading this are probably sports fans to a degree, but, I doubt you would want to be grilled about it. Back in the late '90's, someone--an adult, not a kid--took a rather critical tone with me after he saw Wheel 2000 for the first time, which was one of my favorite shows at the time. I got a bit flustered because he seemed to be tearing into me just because I liked it and he didn't. The same is true of sports: You may like it, and I don't...but, I doubt anything you say will convince me to become a fan, just like I probably couldn't make you a fan of the Disney Channel. Instead of trying to "convert" me, what a true friend would do is simply accept it.
Now, for my conclusion: I realize that sports has been a hot button issue with me for quite a while. I used to believe it should be banned from the country, if not the world, only because I didn't like it. However, that's not right; that would be like the Disney Channel going kaput only because some nameless individual most people know nothing of didn't like it. If one single person were responsible for the end of professional sports, he/she would likely be the most hated individual this planet has ever known. I also used to assume all sports fans were fanatics...but, I eventually realized, that, when it comes to fanaticism, I've got no room to talk. You may know someone who is obsessed with a certain football team, but my fixation on Hilary Duff when I was in high school could have eaten their "obsession" for dinner. More to the point, I was against physical activity in general; I just didn't see the need for it...but, now, I do. Not only does physical strength come in handy in many situations--i.e., helping someone move--but too much sitting around and watching television and movies or reading books can make you gain weight; it's done just that to me! I'm not a kid anymore, and, if I'm going to stay healthy, I'm going to have to get up from the recliner and do something active. I'd rather not participate in sports, but I still need to do something that helps me get healthy...and exercise seems like the best thing.