Day #29 of Wild and Exciting Little Things: Sport Texting

My family loves sports. It’s what we do, what we know, and what we love. My parents are big sports fans, so of course, my sister, brother and I continue to carry the torch.

But, with my brother in Kansas City and my sister in Illinois, I miss watching games with them. Thank goodness for texting. I can watch a game knowing my siblings are watching the game and that I will be receiving their reactions to said game.

Some examples of our sport texting:

– OMG. Did you see that play?

-YES!!!

-Yeah, yeah!

-Are you wearing your lucky shirt

-I just burned my new shirt

-I just burned my brackets

-I might throw up

-Moooose!!

-Da Bears!

-Stupid Bears

-Da Bulls!

-Can you believe this?

-How was that a foul?

-Since when is that a strike?

-Shit.

-CHIEFS

-Ugh. I quit.

-That. Was. Amazing.

-I can’t stop smiling.

-Go Shox!

-SHOCKERS!!

-I heart Fred (Van Vleet)

-Are you still awake?

-Who needs sleep!

-Did you see that??!!

-Who are these announcers?

-Mom just called. They saw it too!

-Dad just called to check on me. I’m still pissed.

-OMG, everyone is texting me!!

-Just opened a beer

-Whew

-Sigh

-Cheers

-Gnite

-Nite

-Love you

Simple, brief, filled with capitalized letters and exclamation points, but I love receiving and sending them. I can’t watch a game without them. And by “them,” I mean my sister and brother. But, if I can’t sit at a table with them at The Other Place in Overland Park, or The Foundry in Naperville, or in the living room of my parents home, then texting is the next best thing. With each buzz of my phone, I know they are watching with me, cheering with me, cursing with me, laughing with me, and sulking with me. But, most importantly, they get it. Only a sports fan can truly understand another sports fan

I’m so grateful my sports-loving parents raised sports-loving kids.

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It’s not sports, it’s family…or I yam what I yam.

This past Sunday, before I headed to a bridal shower, I checked the battery on my phone, checked the time for the AFC/NFC playoff games, and posted on Facebook something about reminding myself that not every woman schedules her life events around the NFL, college basketball and other sports calendars.

I’m the woman who set the date of her wedding the first week of November during non-conference play of college basketball, still-early in the NBA season, and at the non-crucial, non-quite-playoff-decision time of the NFL. From mid-November to mid-June, there are too many Holy Days of Sports, as in Valley play, the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl, the MVC tournament, the NCAA tournament, the Masters, the NBA playoffs…well, the list goes on.

Just how bad is it? When a family member recently announced their wedding was going to be March 16, I blurted, “Wait, isn’t that the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.” Luckily, the tourney starts the following week. As for the family member, they weren’t offended; they’re used to it, as is all of my family, including my husband.

On our wedding day, I was upset because I’d forgotten to record the memorial service for Walter “Sweetness” Payton, who had died earlier that week. My favorite running back of all time, his service at Soldier Field began just as I walked down the aisle. Always aware of my obsession with the Chicago Bears, Brad understood how I’d determined our wedding date, was accepting of my orange and blue foam Bears claw and the horns I don during Bulls games, so he was not shocked when I surprised him and the boys with tickets to see one of Michael Jordan’s last games at the United Center. And as for my stepsons, while I’m not sure they ever became used to it, they definitely found humor in hearing me yell and scream at the television, especially when they were outside and my cries would carry through the open windows. I like to think I had some influence on them as Sloan is a Bears fan and Ian a …Packer fan (no, I have not disowned him), or maybe, like me, they didn’t really have any choice.

As a child, I thought all families watched sports, together. I thought it was the norm that my mother threw annual Super Bowl parties, I mean, didn’t every mother stay up late to cook the night before the big game, invite family over, take bets, then hush everyone in the room during the National Anthem? Didn’t every family attend or play in basketball tournaments from Biddy Basketball to the Mexican-American tournament? And while I realize my parents attending a college basketball tournament on their honeymoon is out of the ordinary, I figured a lot of families took vacation during the NCAA tournament, buying tickets to specific regions and spending their days watching the Spartans, the Orangemen, the Fighting Illini, the Bruins and the like.

It was high school when I realized I might be different. Most girls my age went to North High football and basketball games to meet boys, while one of the main reasons I was in marching band and pep band was so I could get into all the games for free. I admit, I was occasionally distracted by a boy or two and I enjoyed both pre and post-parties, but I loved watching the game. And as I entered my twenties and moved to the suburbs of Chicago, I became even more distracted by music, concerts and more boys, but that didn’t keep me from seeing Michael Jordan when he still had hair, or trying to stomp the warmth into my frozen feet at Soldier Field, or getting a sunburn at Wrigley.

When I moved back to Wichita in 1990, I realized what I’d been missing the most, my family and their love of sports. Now, in Chicago I had my sister whose blood runs blue and orange on any given Sunday in fall, but back in Wichita I had my parents whose fanaticism had deepened, pushing them to attend the baseball and basketball games of second and third generation cousins. I had my crazy female cousins to spend every Sunday with me at Players during the NFL season (we even had our picture in the paper one Super Bowl Sunday) and at whatever bar was showing a Bulls game.

And, my father and I had our Shockers. My dad took me to my first WSU men’s basketball game when I was seven, but when I returned to Wichita our love of Shocker sports reached rafter heights. I became a season ticket holder and have enjoyed every minute of every game sitting next to my father, whether in Koch Arena or in D.C during the Sweet Sixteen, or the Scottrade Center in St. Louis during the MVC tournament. It’s something I cherish, always. And it’s also why my mother often tells others, “Yes, Oscar and Natalie don’t miss a game. Sometimes I think she should’ve been a boy.”

But, as I’ve grown…more experienced, my passion for sports has continued. I could blame it on beating a bunch of boys at their own fantasy sports games, or the fact my Shockers are very much contenders, but I have to say it’s because sports as a whole is the pulse of my family. Our passion and following of the game has kept us close, kept us strong. Some would say that watching sports is not true family time, but I would disagree. We don’t just watch, we talk, we discuss, we share, we cheer, we lament, but most importantly, we’re together.

And, we’re together even when we’re a part. Because I might be watching the game at home, screaming at my television as is my custom, or at a sports bar, or in another city but I’m forever connected to my family because as soon as the play is over or the basket made, I’m texting my brother, sending a message to my sister on Facebook and calling my parents, “Did you see that? Can you believe he made it?” And they know exactly what I’m talking about. Exactly. We’re forever connected, anywhere, anytime.

It’s who we are. It’s who I am.

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The long haul

About this time every year I’m settling in for the long haul of summer. Those who know me know I’m not a fan of heat, bare feet, sweat and antarctic air-conditioning. There’s also the span of time between the end of basketball season and the beginning of football that usually finds me catching a Cubs game here and there and spending a lot of time sitting on the deck reading or writing. This is about the only time I enjoy the summer days of Kansas, when the day is fading, the wind has lessened from its 35 mph hot air gusts and the temperature has cooled to a bearable 80-90 degrees, and I’m able to lounge with a book or notepad in my lap, possibly a chilled mug of beer, and only the Orioles, Cardinals, and Jays to keep me company. Oh, and those are actual birds, not teams.

My sports season ended well with a true team winning the NBA championship, proving the words spoken by my godfather, “a team is always better than a bunch of all-stars,” as well as my own belief you can’t “whore yourself out” for a ring. Dallas and its time-tested veterans played well and deserved the glory. As for the Heat, they need to spend the off-season understanding the definition of entitlement-based ethics and how this doesn’t fit with a team environment or any environment for that matter.

The Bruins have always had a place in my heart since the infamous shoe incident with Mike Milbury in 1979. This was part of my introduction to the NHL, with the 1980 USA hockey team sealing the deal. Needless to say, after the Blackhawks were eliminated I backed the black and gold all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.

But by the time the U.S. Open is underway, I’ve usually selected a book or two to get me through the endless summer days in land-locked Kansas and anticipated watching the wheat harvest from my kitchen window. So this year, I figured my participation in my first fantasy baseball league would hinder time spent lounging, reading, and waving at the farmer, yet I’m finding the hour in the morning it takes me to check stats, preview the days games and set my roster is enough. I’m not glued to the MLB network as I was in the beginning, nor checking live stats on my phone as often. I will still try to catch the occasional Cubs game and if the Giants are televised locally, I’ll definitely make time to watch, but I’ve found I miss my sports reprieve. Those months not spent checking a teams schedule and arranging a calendar according to game time is what keeps me from becoming a complete armchair quarterback, and I’m good with that.

Yes, my competitive nature will keep me in the Lingerie by Laloosh pennant race, but I’m thinking my need for a little soul-mending while the evening air is heavy with the wheat-dust of a days work in the fields is stronger than my need to spend three hours in front of a television, eyes glancing between the game on the field and the stat-loaded ticker at the bottom of the screen.

I’m thinking what I once considered the “long haul” has become not long enough. And if this makes me lesser than the average sports junkie, so be it. I never thought of myself as a professional in the field of sports obsession, although many would say I’m close, so I’m glad to recognize my soul still needs its fill of another almost forgotten American past time.

It’s in the blood

Because of my unconditional love of all things blue and orange.

My passion for the Black and Gold

A love of La Roja  

Infatuation with the Bearded Wonder and the Stoner

And Sideline Bimbos, strange mascots, and Devin Hester

I have this:  Leave the Stilettos at Home

A blog to support all things sports. Or yet another blog I will fail to update regularly.

We’ll see.