While watching the Supreme Court nomination process, the question that arose in my mind dealt with people allowing this process to dominate their lives and their emotions—allowing the outcome to elicit either sadness or gloating joy, depending on their party affiliation. I’ve, personally, never allowed politics to do that to me. I take into account outcomes and adjust my expectations accordingly.
But when thinking through this issue, it occurred to me that I do allow sports to mimic what I just described above. My mind immediately set course to dissect why sports happens to be the thing that alters my mood and emotions, much like politics or celebrity gossip does to others. I soon started to think about what sports teams or individuals have stirred these emotions for me, in the past. The Cubs, Tiger Woods, Lincoln Railers, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Michael Jordan stick out as the most prominent sports icons in my life. The underlying theme tying these together was my dad, but not necessarily in the sense that he rooted for them, so I did, too. That was probably the case with the Cubs, but the rest were born out of mutual interest.
My dad was not a master communicator. Those of you reading this that knew him just said to yourselves, “That’s a gross understatement.” But looking back, my dad was able to show his love for me through sports, and I never realized it at the time. The Friday afternoon calls when I was finishing up class for the week to tell me Dale Jr. qualified 8th, or 17th or last—it didn’t really matter, he just wanted a reason to talk. Every Friday and Saturday night during basketball season, I would get a call about 30 minutes after the Railer game simply asking, “Did Lincoln win?” and “How did they look?” That was the gist of the phone call, but it was just another way for him to let me know he cared about me, by caring about what I cared about.
When I was younger, I’d rush home from school every day to watch the Cubs afternoon games with him, even though, at the time, I didn’t really understand baseball. (Thankfully he got to see the Cubs win the World Series in 2016, but, man, I thought he would have plenty more years to see another.) During my grade school years, my dad would search for sports card shows that he and I could go to, hoping to be able to find a Michael Jordan card or two that I didn’t have yet. I could tell that didn’t really interest him, per se, but he was always up for going anywhere I wanted to go. What really did interest him was golf, and especially the emergence of Tiger Woods. We spent countless hours, he in his recliner and me on the couch, watching Tiger golf, wincing at every dropped shot and cheering at every triumph. His celebrations were simple—either “Yes!” or “How about that!” but for a guy who showed little emotion, you knew he was happy.
I hope to be able to communicate to my children my love for them in many ways, but I sure have a great example of how to do so through shared interests. I didn’t know how badly I needed to get this down on paper until the opportunity hit me like a ton of bricks. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for allowing certain issues to elicit strong feelings in them. If anything, after this exercise of reflection, I’m more apt to be compassionate to everyone’s viewpoints on various subjects. I think our world really needs that right now, anyway.
Thank you for reading.