The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

Wide World of Sports

Dan (the “other” Dan) wrote a great piece about his childhood baseball experience as the team’s bench-warmer and his subsequent “disaffection,” shall we say, toward a prevailing obsession with sports. It’s not that he was poor at the game. Far from it, as you will learn when you read the story.

I share a similar cynicism. I, on the other hand, was lousy at sports. I couldn’t run. Good grief, I couldn’t even dance. I performed better than average on the balance beam until I “matured” and my center of gravity shifted. I enjoyed volleyball, but hated being in the front row near the net. Couldn’t spike to save my life. Understanding that I was uncoordinated, the high school coach put me in as goal-tender for the lacrosse team. That scared the hell out of me, those hard, little cannon balls whipping around the pitch. After one practice, I declared myself off the team. As I recall, no argument from coach.

The Phys. Ed. teacher was mightily disappointed in my inability to perform a layup shot in basketball. She thought I was a ringer since I towered over most of my classmates. I suspect that she got her revenge, later in the school year.  She refused to allow me to go home until I successfully vaulted the horse.

You can imagine my relief when halfway through high school, administrators switched P.E. from obligatory to optional. I was overjoyed to rid myself of these humiliations and failures, not to mention the godawful blue bloomers.

Of course, all these years later, I realize that my injuries from a fall were responsible for my clumsiness and lack of strength on the courts. I am able to forgive my poor performance.

I have not, however, been able to overcome the negative sentiment I hold toward sports. For example, when I worked for the phone company, mornings found me in constant eye-roll mode as the guys fulfilled the obligation of replaying the previous night’s game. I didn’t get it then. I don’t get it now. I don’t imagine I ever will.

I have to ask myself why do I despise it so? Is it simply my introverted and parsimonious self that cannot abide the crowds, the noise, the long commutes and outrageous ticket fees?

Sure, that’s part of it. Back at the Bell Canada water cooler, my disdain was more about resenting the time wasted than it was the subject matter. (Yeah, I’m a petty party pooper. I like to hope that I’ve outgrown that.)

[click for source]

Here’s the thing: I was part of the screaming high-school crowd in the 1972 cafeteria when Paul Henderson made his winning goal. See? I remember that without having to turn to my google fact checker. (I lied, I fact checked, after the fact. Wouldn’t want to be caught in a lie.)

I watched the Blue Jays win the World Series. Yes, they did! I’m not making this up.

[off she goes to fact check again.]

TWICE! In a row!!

I had a crush on Derek Sanderson. (Hm. Another who has the Sam Elliott thing goin’ on.) OK, that’s hormones in a hockey jersey, not a love of sport. But I’m in memoir mode.

Upon reflection, maybe it’s time to let go of my scorn for all things sporting. Well, maybe not all – I remain a cynic when big money is involved in any endeavour.

But I must thank Dan for triggering this recollection.

And Cee, who asked “What is something that people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?” I took this as confirmation that I needed to explore my unfair, some might say “unsportsmanlike” attitude toward sports.

All this to say, I get it. I do. I get the excitement, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.

OH MY GOD! I’m channeling Howard Cosell!

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Categories: Personal Growth

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50 replies

  1. Not much of a sports enthusiast myself. Hated gym in school. I am a total klutz. But I was an excellent swimmer and a pretty good golfer. And I do like pilates. I was at there twice when the Blue Jays won the World Series (screaming my head off I might add) and I’ve been known to watch the Masters and the Olympics. I was in the stadium when Caitlyn Jenner (aka Bruce) won the triathlon and there may be a few other assorted tennis, soccer and hockey championships I’ve watched.

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  2. About halfway through a Vikings or Twins game, I would turn the TV off and go out and toss a ball with the kids. So much more fun.

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  3. I enjoyed gym class and I guess I have always been fairly coordinated. But, I never enjoyed participating in super-competitive sports. I wanted to have fun, not engage in warfare. I have found that my interest in how well our local professional sports teams are doing has waned quite a bit in the last few years. When our football team picked up their balls and moved to another city last year, I couldn’t have cared less. I have no idea how the baseball team is doing, but I’m pretty sure they are awful as usual. Too many other things to be interested in.

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  4. Were those godawful blue bloomers universal or something? I wasn’t fond of PE either – because of my lack of coordination/sports ability. The only thing I liked was when we had some archery, but that didn’t last long enough. I have watched sports – preferably on TV – when husband was alive, but feel little inclination to turn them on on my own.

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  5. Like you, Maggie, I was one of the tallest girls in my class. Coaches and P.E. teachers tried to recruit me for basketball or volleyball…until they saw how completely uncoordinated I was. I had, at best, a tepid interest in professional sports until I worked for a sports magazine for two years. One of the responsibilities of my job was to read all the other sports magazines. In addition to the general sports magazines, there are multiple publications for every individual sport—and they all take themselves very seriously! It was aversion therapy at its finest—I left that job with a complete lack of interest in sports, one that remains to this day. I smile when I think of all the good books I’ve read while others watched baseball/football/basketball/golf/tennis/etc.! (Confession: I do find curling to be an absurdly mesmerizing sport)

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  6. Like you, I was tall growing up and so it was expected I would be good in basketball. I was not. I was clumsy and uncoordinated. I’m still not great at sports, but I exercise every day and am physically fit, so I guess that’s proof there is a difference between being athletic and being fit. 😄 I watch some basketball when the Cavs play, but other than that, I’m not much of a sports fan, much to my husband’s chagrin.

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  7. I understand all of these sentiments. I was fairly atheletic in gym class except for. Our Fitness training and testing. I don’t do long distance running, chin ups or situps well. I hate contact spirts like flag football, especially when a group of mean girls targets my five foot body for crushing. Whya did they hate me? No reason. Just for grins. I support our college home team and enjoy a really well played game but can aleays walk away from a sports event when something more fantastic shows up. Like an XFiles rerun. 🙊Lucky me my hubs is on the same page. If only I could get him to stop watching all those Pawn shop shows….lol I did love the Olympics, especially gymnastics. I dreamed of being a gymnast.

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    • I suppose those mean girls (and let me just emphasize that they WERE mean!) were looking for an easy target. Oh, big deal, you clobbered the shortest member of the opposition. Bully, bully, for you! [Hm. I must investigate the meaning of the word “bully”.]

      I had a big LOL at your pawn shop shows comment. Reiner and I don’t have cable, but if we ever find ourselves on an overnight stay at a motel, that’s where we end up. Either that or the Antiques Roadshow. 🙂

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  8. “administrators switched P.E. from obligatory to optional”

    I am jealous. I was obligated/forced/stuck with PE all during my school days and then in college, too. I was [and am] uncoordinated, klutzy + bespectacled, meaning I hated it. All I learned from PE is that there are sadists among us– and that they hide together under team banners.

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  9. I find myself solidly at your side, twice today, Maggie. First in paying homage to the other Dan. I love his blog. Second in a collection of horrible memories from PE. Also tall, also not interested in basketball, also drawing the negative attention of the instructor/coach. The best part of my high school PE experience was when I broke my leg. After the cast was removed, I was allowed to use the weight room to rebuild the muscles in that leg. I milked that the entire final semester.

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  10. I want to sing your song … but with a slightly different tune. I WANTED to be an athlete. I still do. I’m a wannabe to the core. Sadly, I’m missing the active ingredient called inherent talent. Trust me when I say no amount of training (and lordy, have I done a lot of that!!) can make someone an athlete if they don’t have some inherent talent.

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  11. Choking back the memories of an 80 lb. Catholic school veteran who walked into a 9th grade public school gym that was equipped for the Olympics. Everyone had grown up with that stuff. I had been used to playing “Red Rover” on a blacktop parking lot. Yikes ! The horror of those gym uniforms, and the group shower. Even so, I was always a baseball/football/basketball fan, at least as a spectator ! I still can’t throw/catch a ball to save my life. But I inherited my father’s golf genes ! In college, we had better choices…I took rifle range shooting, archery, fencing, bowling, badminton…that made more sense to me.

    Thanks for the memories….I think ????

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome, Van. 🙂

      Yeah, I think I’ve stirred up some not-so-great memories for many readers. Sorry ’bout that.

      I remember Red Rover! And Simon Says. We’d play those games at Vacation Bible School – hoo boy, another trip down memory lane is VBS!

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  12. So many memories of various sports disasters and ridicule with this post, starting somewhere around 4th grade. PE ended for me after 10th grade which was about 4 years too late if you ask me.

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  13. I was a fast runner so I was always picked for teams, but it was hard to watch the same kids sit the bench, Maggie. And kids were so mean back then. Now, I think PE might be optional. Shame, too. OMG–blue bloomers?? That was my high school PE uniform. Ugh, they were awful!!

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    • Yeah – it was a double-edged sword, being less than equipped for PE. You got to sit on the bench (YAY!) which meant no one wanted you on their team (BOO!). Even for easy, Sunday School games, like Red Rover, my poor ego would take a hit if I didn’t get asked to “come over.”

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  14. You’re in good company. I never have liked sports much. I enjoy playing tennis and swimming. I do not wish to watch any of that. I grew up dancing, which as any grumpy old orthopedist will tell you is not a sport, despite the sport injuries.
    I had six semesters of phys ed in high school and three of those were swimming. Because what teenage girl doesn’t love to shower, blow-dry, curl, and make her face twice every morning?!?
    I dated some real sports nuts. Glad to say The Mister is not one.
    I do remember this time when the gym teacher called on me for a basketball demonstration. She already had me labeled in her head, nerdy short girl, can’t score. Well I stole the ball, I shot, and I scored. She had to pick on someone else. Ptttthbt!
    Also, when I was a kid, I was convinced it was The WILD World of Sports, and my mother’s pun on the agony of de feet didn’t help 😉

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  15. I am a rugby and cricket enthusiast by nature, but I always preferred playing to watching, and wasn’t one for endless discussions about a game.

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  16. I am a sports fan, but it has to be college sports in most cases. There’s too much money and ego in most professional sports for my liking.

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  17. It’s the agony of de feet that always gets me.

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  18. Wow! I just now came upon yur post , Maggie , where I am mentioned . Yeah , it’s interesting how one post will trigger memories . Good. Howard Cosell ? Do……..you have……..thevoice….for it ? Anyhow, thanks for the mention.

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