You know the old saying/joke, "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter"? Well, let's say that I never climbed onto that polarized cultural paradigm. I'm the only graduate of Charlotte Latin School who completed her physical education requirement assisting the Lady Hawks' coaches doing the following entirely sweat-free activities:
--posting notes on lockers for the cheerleaders
--bringing out equipment so P.E. students could sweat
--posting notes on lockers for the field hockey team
--grading eighth-grade health tests
--posting notes on lockers for the swim team
--filing the scores of health tests
--posting notes on lockers for the volleyball team
Hey, it took a lot of walking around to post all those notes!
While attending Duke University, I cheered on Coach K and the basketball team, but I quickly learned that if I watched a game, they lost. I was some sort of freakish bad luck charm. Duke would have won the 1986 championship game against Louisville if I hadn't watched the last twenty minutes of the game.
I wept for Coach K and the team when they returned to campus to a bittersweet hero's welcome and vowed never to watch them again.
I felt fairly safe attending a Duke football game with George at Carolina since, well, Duke football was (and still is) rather a sad endeavor. We stayed until the last three minutes of the game, and since Carolina was dominating the field so completely, George and I decided to leave before the crowds. That night, at an Air Force ROTC formal, we found out that Duke beat Carolina with a last-minute touchdown because I left the stadium!
So much for being an athletic supporter. Every year, I watch the Superbowl (for the commercials), the Tour de France (to listen to Phil Liggett say, "He's opening his suitcase of courage!"), and nothing else sports-related.
Imagine my lack of surprise when my firstborn proved ambivalent about team sports. We signed Nick up for soccer at our local YMCA when he was four. As soon as he realized he wouldn't score a goal every game (the coaches of four-year-olds are just happy when the team plays the ball toward the correct goal), he lost interest and refused to play. Instead, he sat on the sidelines picking handfuls of grass and tossing them into the wind.
That's my boy.
A few weeks ago, at the ripe age of 12 (and I do mean ripe...have you smelled a 12-year-old boy lately?)Nick said, "I want to play baseball!" At first, I thought he was kidding, but he wasn't. He wants to play baseball.
We signed him up for a non-select league where the emphasis is on having fun as a team and not spending every blessed day practicing as if he were preparing to play for the Redskins. Or is it the Reds? Whatever. His coach is a cheerful man who didn't bat an eye at the fact Nick has never played before. The first practice was last Sunday, and Nick had fun. His skills as a sprinter might come in handy stealing bases. The boy is fast.
I'm happy he's found an interest other than nerf battles and Yu-Gi-Oh cards, but baseball? Really? I might possibly know the difference between an out and a home run, but beyond that, well, let's just say that I'm a grasshopper who has much to learn.
So my love of my son is forcing me to do what graduation requirements at Charlotte Latin could not: I'm joining the cultural paradigm and becoming an athletic supporter.
Motherhood sure takes a woman places she thought she'd never go.