The sporting life

On my way home (finally) after a thirteen hour day, the last three of them being running to various sporting events, it occurred to me that my life has become something I never would have expected. We are a sports family.

I grew up with no interest in sports. Oh, we tried a little baseball around home, and we had a mini-golf course in our back yard. And we tried a little archery. But I was convinced I was no good at sports, and adopted a sour-grapes attitude toward them. Oh, I could watch them on TV now and then, but that was it. Not even my brief attempt at football my sophomore year of high school changed my mind–if anything it convinced me even further.

I didn’t like sports.

Except our friday-afternoon volleyball games in college were a blast. And the summer my younger brother and I started playing basketball as a joke and suddenly found we were having fun to the point that we made it a daily event for awhile. And a couple years of fencing which didn’t count, because anything a nerd like me could be good at couldn’t really be a sport.

But then my kids won tickets to see the local farm league baseball team in a summer library reading program. They got excited about it, and I, not wanting to prejudice my children unduly, allowed them to be. They remembered that all the way to the following spring when they got flyers at school about the Police Athletic League baseball program. All three kids wanted to play baseball. It wasn’t too expensive. We decided to let them give it a try.

But of course they couldn’t wait until the season actually started. They wanted to practice now! And when one parent is Finnish it falls to the American to teach them the all-American sport. I wasn’t even sure I knew all the rules! But someone had to do it. And my ego didn’t bruise badly because I was at least better than my kids who’d never worn a mitt in their lives.

What surprised me, though, was that I found myself getting better even as they got better. Soon I wasn’t able to practice with them often enough, and they got Terhi involved. When the season actually, finally started, they were hooked. We made sure they got to their practices, helped out wherever needed, and took notes on what to practice with them at home. We were all five of us committed. And we were having a blast!

So here we are nearly a year later. The kids are in sports again; Emma in soccer this time, but the boys still in baseball. I’m coaching one of the baseball teams. Terhi’s often assisting at the soccer practices. We’re running four nights a week to at least one practice. We’ve gone to see a Jazz game, and we have tickets for the local baseball farm team (higher level) for the boys’ birthday. We just picked up tickets to the local pro soccer team.

We are living, eating, and breathing sports.

And I’m loving every minute of it! I can’t help but wonder about what I missed as a kid. Now I’d be the last one to blame my parents. There weren’t all that many opportunities back then, not like there is now. They didn’t even have youth soccer leagues yet. What sports they had were rather expensive, and we didn’t have a lot of money. I was outside playing fairly regularly, so I didn’t really need motivation to be active. It just wasn’t in the cards.

But I have a much different opinion about sports now. Perhaps they’re not for everyone, and there are still plenty of things I’d rather do than watch sports on TV. But playing them is something else entirely. It’s very satisfying when your body responds correctly and you are able to make a difficult play. I see the appeal. I understand why my kids are excited about it. I get all button-poppy watching them play. I imagine them going to college on sports scholarships–if they want to. Starting sports was their idea, and they can quit playing any time they like.

I’m no longer like Doug Dorsey’s brother in “The Cutting Edge” who had a hard time accepting that Doug was enjoying being a figure skater. I still don’t understand rabid sports fans, but I now understand sports. I’m rather enjoying being a “sporting family.”

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