The other day I had ESPN First Take on the TV, ESPN and Outsports on separate tabs on my computer, and scanning both NCAA and NBA game scores on my iPhone. Suddenly I realized that I was a sports fanatic, because I had the thought of,"This routine occurs on a 24/7 basis." When did this happen? Can any of you relate to my experience?
Let me see...how did I become this sports crazed individual? This question made me reminisce my own personal sports experience. Let me begin by saying for my first sports involved memory, I remember vaguely pulling for the Washington Redskins when I was 4 years old and recently adopted in the United States. We lived in Maryland and at the time we lived there (1986-1988), the Redskins were extremely successful. During that 2 year stretch, Joe Gibbs led them to a NFC Championship game in 1986 and the following year 1987, Doug Williams led the Redskins to a 42-10 rout against the more heralded John Elway-led Denver Broncos. Doug Williams became the first and only African American quarterback to win the Super Bowl. Of course, I didn't really know the significance of that and being so young, I didn't even know about the issues of race.
I remember Michael Jordan in that Chicago Bull uniform and watching in awe every time he drove to the lane or hit that last second pull-up jump shot to win a game. Even though I was slight in frame and short in height, it didn't stop me from imagining myself in Jordan's image. Stop, pivot, pump fake, and shooting a fade-away jump shot with my tongue out. I would do it unconsciously and my older brother and sister would tease me about it. It was about this time (when I was around 8), where I would start looking at the box scores and was fascinated by sports statistics. I would even go to the extents of creating a fictional game with fictional stats and game situations. I was hooked and the signs of sports fanaticism had begun.
When I was 11 and 12, I played basketball for the the local recreational league. We were pretty good as a team and in this league, you are put on a team for 2 years. We had a fiery head coach who believed in discipline and team cohesion. We were doing quite well that second year when a tragedy struck. Our coach, passed away from a sudden heart attack. What made this so tragic was his son (and our star player in the team) was left fatherless. We vowed after the funeral service, that we would win the championship for our coach. We ended up going 17-1 in the regular season and won 4 playoff games to capture the championship. That would be the most intense sports experience in my life.
During my high school years, I realized that I was too short and small to play basketball. Plus, my skills were a bit limited...I could shoot 3 pointers and defend well. However, I lacked any athleticism and any natural abilities to succeed. I ventured in the world of cross country but at that age, I lacked the self-discipline to stick with it.
An interesting thing happened which I still don't understand but I was quite disconnected from sports for about 9 years. From the time I left high school and served in the military and the five years I lived in NYC, I had a complete disconnect from sports in general. No real rhyme or reason for this but I guess I would call those days, my "dark ages" of sports watching and participation.
Within the last 4 years, I have gotten back into sports and most particularly college football and basketball. Something about the college experience and atmosphere is exciting. I attribute this renewed interest and passion of sports when I met my partner, Jack. He was a DIE-HARD SEC fan (he graduated from two SEC schools, South Carolina and Auburn). In fact, we have been in a couple great SEC games in the past couple years. We went to see Auburn when Cam Newton hit it big a couple years ago. This past year, we went to see a rejuvenated South Carolina team play a heated SEC conference game. Within this time period, my love of sports have been resuscitated.
So, having looked back at my life experiences, I can see where sports have played an instrumental role in my life. At certain time periods in my life, sports have proved to be a great asset. Sports have been an anchor of entertainment and at times a pillar of strength when I have needed it.
I am a sports fanatic and I am damn PROUD of it.