When sports are your passion, it's the simple joys that hook you for life.
If you're a sports nut, and you think about it awhile, you realize you have your own set of simple sports joys you cherish and are grateful for. Some are shared by others and some are uniquely your own. Some are trivial (the sports atheists out there may even say shallow), some are personally meaningful, and others are just plain fun. However you may define them, they help keep the love of sports embedded in your soul.
Here are a handful of my simple sports pleasures, perhaps you can relate to a few of them ...
• Pulling the new issue of Sports Illustrated out of the mailbox, knowing a blissful hour of reading in solitude awaits. Whether right away, or later after the days' duties and activities have been completed, at some point before hitting the hay I know I'm going to grab a couch and kickback with SI.
• Seeing the smile on your seven-year-old daughter's face after she makes a basket in a 3-on-3 basketball game. I never really appreciated what parents meant when they said they got more happiness from watching their kids succeed in sports than they ever did from their own athletic accomplishments. Now I do.
• Driving by a basketball hoop in a park or school playground and turning the car around in order to go back and shoot a few baskets with the ball that's always in your trunk. What a wonderful respite from the day's stresses. For ten minutes, you can flashback to when you were a teenager, out on the driveway playing an imaginary game between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Once again, you're Larry Bird receiving a pass from Dennis Johnson and shooting the winning baseline jumper to beat the dreaded Lakers....
• Looking for something in your basement storage room and stumbling across old baseball or football cards from your youth. You sit down and "blow" 45 minutes going through the cards and reading the stats and stories on the back. Growing up in Denver with the old AFL, it's always enjoyable to look at cards of old Kansas City Chiefs like Willie Lanier and Len Dawson, or San Diego Chargers like Keith Lincoln and Lance Alworth (looking pretty in their classic powder blue uniforms).
• Playing catch, hitting the tennis ball, or shooting hoops with your kid. Watching your child's confidence soar when he or she finally masters a skill that's been a struggle for weeks is, yes, priceless.
• Flipping through the channels late at night and coming across a replay of one of your favorite games of all time. Lakers-Celtics in game seven of the1983-84 NBA Finals, or the Chiefs-Vikings in Super Bowl IV. For an AFL fan, there's nothing like listening to Hank Stram say "Let's matriculate the ball down the field boys" as his Chiefs upend the heavily favored Vikings from the NFL.
• Attending a sporting event and high-fiving complete strangers that you have nothing in common with except an allegiance to the same team and the joy of sports. What can bring disparate groups of people together better than sports?
• Watching victory celebrations. It doesn't matter if it's the Super Bowl, World Series, Little League baseball, or indoor lacrosse, I love victory celebrations. If you've ever competed in athletics, no matter the level, you can vicariously share the joy of teams that have worked hard, sacrificed for months and then won the ultimate game.
• Mowing the yard on a Sunday afternoon, popping some corn in the microwave, grabbing your favorite beverage and heading to the basement to snag the clicker and watch the second half of the late NFL game. Whether you actually watch 'til the end or doze off, it's all good.
• Competing in ... whatever. Despite being over the hill in everything, it's still fun to compete. Whether it's lunchtime hoops, or a USTA adult tennis league, it's fun to test your mettle against other fossils. And with age comes the realization that sports are really about the camaraderie, not the scoreboard.
Ahhh, the life of a sports nut ... 'tis a blessing.
I am thankful.