Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I left my heart (or at least my football fandom) in Georgia

Song 24: Leaving
Artist: Hootie and the Blowfish

For a quarter of a century, I called the college town of Statesboro, Ga. my home. From kindergarten through high school, on to college, my nearly five-year run as a journalist and then back to college for graduate school, I lived in the town. Then, upon obtaining my graduate degree, The Wife got a job in North Carolina, which, you are probably aware, is not in Statesboro.

I've been to this outdoor
basketball court. I'm told it's
in One Tree Hill
And while there is a lot to love about my new town (including, but not limited to, three beaches within 20 miles of my apartment, summer league baseball and professional soccer within walking distance of my abode, two different outdoor concerts every Friday during the summer, fireworks every Thursday during the summer, the courthouse Matlock used in the show, being able to visit scenes from both  Dawson's Creek and One Tree Hill and a plethora of local restaurants so that we don't have to eat at a chain restaurant ever again), there's something missing.

But despite all the amenities my new hometown has to offer, there's a few things that made leaving difficult. My parents and brother and sister-in-law live there (and no, this is not an obligatory mention on the off chance they read this. Why would you even suggest that? Does that seem like something I'd do? It does? Well, maybe in the past, but I've changed.) But of only slightly less importance, The Wife managed to get a job at one of the 32 Division 1 schools to have never sponsored football as a varsity sport (and two of those, UNC-Charlotte and Kennessaw State are adding football by 2014.) Yep, there are more than  340 Division 1 schools, only nine percent have a grand total of zero football tradition. One of them is where I spend my fall Saturdays.

Yes, I'm aware that roughly 60 schools at one point had football and then dropped it, and I'm thinking that may be worse than my current situation, but then again, if it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, wouldn't it also be true that it's better to have had a football program and ended it than to never have had a football program at all? Then again, College of Charleston's last football team played when Babe Ruth was king of the sporting world, so at their class of 1923's 90th reunion, they can reminisce about the good old days at the stadium.

I miss this more than anything
about Statesboro.
Making matters worse is that I left one of the most successful  football programs in the history of the sport behind. Six national titles since 1985, two other title game appearances, the sport's first 15-0 season in history are but a few of the feats of a program that was dormant from the dawn of World War II until the first year of the Reagan presidency. And it's not just the games I miss, but the tailgating. Just walking up and down the parking lot, seeing friends, and generally spending a perfect (if not a little hot) Autumn Saturday in the Prettiest Little Stadium in America. It's not quite the same sitting in my apartment complex parking lot for about an hour before going back inside to watch a game on television.

Don't feel too bad for me. If things get too depressing on a Saturday, I'm sure an afternoon at the beach will help me feel better.

Next Song: Angel of Harlem
Artist: U2

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Men Without Hats

There's a lot to love about baseball. The greenest grass on the planet. The joy of sitting outside on a (increasingly) hot summer night eating peanuts and cracker jack, not caring if you ever get back. Growing up, I always wanted to be a baseball player (well, after the firefighter/astronaut phase and before the lawyer phase, so really there about a five-year window where I harbored dreams of being a professional baseball player before giving up on that dream when I realized my baseball talents were not really talents).

I don't get paid to
wear this...yet.
There were a multitude of reasons why I wanted to play in the Major Leagues. Sure, there was fame, fortune, and the opportunity to have a baseball card made of me. But you also get to wear a hat to work. And not a hard hat, which is not possibly cool and, to my knowledge, has never been featured in a rap video, but a baseball hat. A genuine, authentic baseball hat like the kind you can buy at any decent sporting goods store. Only I wouldn't have to buy it, they'd give it to me as part of my uniform. (I could do without the baseball pants, they always seemed unnecessarily hot for a game played outside in the summer.)

While I may not have become a professional baseball player (yet!), I have adopted the idea of wearing a hat all the time. Part of it is the fact that my eyes are sensitive to the light, part of it is showing random support a team that I'm not actually a member of and part of it is laziness on my part because wearing a hat means I don't have to comb my hair in the morning. And being that the job market in Wilmington is less than good, I've been wearing a hat fairly often.

I didn't realize just how often it was until I went to take our dog for her nightly walk without wearing one. It was overcast night and rather than my usual 20 minute walk, this was hopefully going to be a quick 10 minute trip. So I get the dog on  her leash and head out the door when the little guy said, "no, daddy no hat." (For those who don't speak toddler, that means, "Daddy doesn't have a hat on." Toddler speak isn't that difficult, so if you didn't understand that, it's likely you're just hoping I'll post a picture of an attractive woman at some point.) When I got back from walking the dog, the little guy, again, said "daddy no hat."

Just because I wear a hat (or visor) to the beach, pool, library, for a walk along the river, to the grocery store, to take him to preschool, to the park, or just around the house doesn't mean I always wear a hat of some kind. I do, occasionally, shower, and even at times do so without some sort of hat.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I can't, for the life of me, figure out what's going on in the picture below.

Those ladies were at the beach for at least an hour and a half (I left before they did, for all I know, they could still be out there.) They made the effort to drive to the beach, find parking, carry their chairs to the sand and the faced the sand dunes.

I don't understand people.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Soccer, Nancy Grace and the Dominican Republic baseball

In case you haven't noticed, and judging by the ratings you haven't, the United States Women's national team have managed to win a few games and are threatening to climb to the top of women's soccer. I mention this because on one of the growing number of social networking sites someone mentioned that an American was cheering for Brazil. For some reason, people seemed to care which nation's women's soccer team this person was hoping would win.

It's not like this person was cheering for al Queda or for Nancy Grace (that's not a false equivalency, they're both equally heinous and should be wiped from the face of the earth). No, apparently which athletes you chose to support from the comfort of your own home or sports bar ... Ok so no reputable sports bar had a quarterfinal Women's World Cup game on but the point remains, matters to people. Look, they're just athletes playing a game. Random chance of where you were born doesn't have to dictate who you're obligated to cheer for.

In fact, I've twice found myself cheering for national teams other than the U.S. over the years.both times were in the World Baseball Classic, the sport's version of the World Cup.

I've been a baseball fan for pretty much as long as I can remember. I begged my dad when I was seven to be able to stay up to watch a World Series game on a Saturday night. He relented, not knowing the game would end up being the classic Bill Buckner game. granted, I was seven and didn't understand all that was going on, but I knew it was baseball and I wanted to watch. Add in the countless hours playing fantasy baseball and the hundreds of games I've watched and I had a pretty good idea of the players I liked and the ones I didn't. So when the World Baseball Classic rolled around, I didn't feel that I HAD to cheer for the U.S. simply because we happened to share the same nationality. I don't think Minnesotans feel the need the support Michele "I'm Driving Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train" Bachman simply because they share a state any more than I feel the need to cheer for some contestant on The Bachelor because she's from my state.

So I did the thinkable. I cheered for the Dominican Republic in both 2006 and 2009. Granted, neither time did they win, but they had the players I lied to watch the most. And this may come as a shock to some, but if you're using the outcomes of international sporting events to determine the amount of pride you have in your country, it might be time to reevaluate your definition of what it means to be a citizen.

At the end of the day, it's just sports. Cheer for who you want. It's not like it' something really important, like
American Idol. If you don't support the contestant nearest to where you live, you're a traitor to all that is good and just and holy in this world.