I hate sports so much that I purposely avoid the sports category any time I play Trivial Pursuit because there is a 90 percent chance that—unless the answer to the question is "David Beckham in his underwear"—I have no idea about the correct response. I've lived most of my life in this same vein minus four years in high school where I was forced to attend all the football games because I was on the dance team and, well, getting to shake your booty at half time usually requires watching at least part of the Neanderthal game going on around you. This all ended, however, when I met The Man two years ago.
It wasn't until four months into our relationship that I discovered I was destined to be a "sports widow." I guess I should have figured it out earlier considering in the South one is either a "sports widow" or a "hunting widow" for half the year, but you know what they say about love. There was that innate blindness and also the dumb luck that I happened to meet him during baseball season.
Baseball happens to be the one sport The Man doesn't enjoy. This created a "gap" in the seasons between basketball and football that allowed him to devote his full attention to "courtin'" when we met. I'm pretty sure his hatred of baseball is one of the reasons we are still together today. While I am able to suffer through most sporting events without slitting my wrists and trying to drown myself, I absolutely loathe baseball (I'll pause for all the "un-American" comments I'm sure to garner for this admission).
These sportless five months meant that I had him all to myself from April to August for unabated romantic gestures and thoughts about how lucky I was for finding a man who neither hunted nor watched sports. When his love for Mississippi State football raised its horned head in August, well, I was already a goner and actually acquiesced to attending the first home game of the season. Yes, he's that cute. Just acknowledging this fact means I've traveled long and hard from my youthful beliefs about all sports considered "organized."
I was a chubby kid. The size of my butt was the bane of my existence until the age of 14 when a carefully cultivated case of bulimia cleared it up. Before then, I desperately hated recess or any other block of time set aside for group "exercise" and the general insistence that my heart rate exceeds 100. I would have rather been reading.
When I was younger, I would invite friends over to "play." The gist of this "play" included my friend Beth sitting close enough to me so that we could "co-read" a book by her looking over my shoulder, a silent nod indicating we had both finished the page. We could do this for hours. That's my idea of a sporting event. It actually requires talent. It probably should have been a signal to my mother that there were lots and lots of things wrong with me, but I'm assuming when you have an 11-year-old who is quiet and respectful for hours at a time, one doesn't question it. One just thanks Jesus and moves on to try to parent the older brother who's building homemade bombs out of shotgun shells and blowing up squirrels in the backyard.
The first time I actually endeavored to join in a group sports activity was in the sixth grade when my Catholic elementary school hired a new teacher from Ireland who insisted we all gather at recess and attempt to form a soccer team. Do you know what you do in soccer? You run. You run from one end of a field to another. If I'd really wanted to do this I could have spent the day at my stepfather's farm and had my brothers throw some snakes at my feet. It probably would have resulted in about the same amount of fun. After 20 minutes of this "sporting activity," the only clear thing I'd learned about myself was that I needed to start wearing a bra. This experience definitely colored my attitude about sports. Being forced to stand in line and get picked for a team in dodgeball further cultivated this way of thinking.
Over the past two years, I've traveled a long way from the belief that hell includes an organized dodgeball section where the school bully from Our Lady Of Lourdes is choosing teams, to somewhat delightfully attending State's home football games (some of them their own version of hell) and knowing that I do this because its all a part of something greater that my Mama calls "compromise."
But, I will still admit that at the end of March, the 12-year-old living inside me screamed with delight that The Man would finally start giving me a little more consideration. From now until the first kickoff in August, I'll be getting his undivided attention. And because of this, my feelings toward baseball have changed considerably. I have never loved it quite so much as I do now. Hearing someone scream "play ball" always reminds me to put on my best bra and get ready for a little lovin'.