Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day

Today is Major League Baseball's opening day, so an appropriate day to start my sports blog. Of course, many of the games are facing rain delays and the one most important to me, the Yankee home opener, has been postponed until tomorrow, but we'll plow ahead anyway.

So, sports. Lots of girls are into it. Many of you are not. I myself played softball and soccer when I was younger, I coached PAL soccer as a high schooler, I played in my high school's senior-faculty basketball game, but I tried out for and failed to make my high school softball team, so I don't consider myself an athlete in the least. I hate running. I hate working out. I've tried and eventually become bored of yoga and Pilates. I've currently taken up swimming laps and so far it's sticking, even though I failed to pass to the next swimming level two summers in a row at camp. I was the oldest and worst in my ice skating class when I was a kid. I'm uncoordinated and I have terrible balance. I'm just not that girl when it comes to participating in sports.

And yet, I love the game. Most girls know how to play games. Most of those games do not involve sports in any shape or form, but we play games because they're fun, they're exciting, and they make us feel powerful. Well, the same can be said about a basketball, soccer, football or baseball game. And you don't have to play it to get those feelings. Just ask the millions of spectators who watch those games every year.

The first time I remember getting excited about a sport was the 1986 Mets team winning the World Series. When I was younger, I found the Olympics particularly exciting too - figure skating, skiing, swimming, running. In high school, I followed the Knicks and I still remember being particularly ticked off when their playoff game was interrupted for live coverage of O.J. Simpson's low speed police chase in that now famous white Bronco. In college, I discovered the Yankees when they made their playoff run culminating in a World Series championship in 1998. I went to every home game of my high school football team when I was a senior, but never understood it, even though my father and brother, both diehard Jets fans, tried to explain it to me. Over the past two years I started watching Giants games with my boyfriend and his friends and had no choice but to start understanding the game, and watching and understanding made this year's championship run for the Giants an exciting streak (desperately needed following the Yankees and Mets collapses earlier in the fall). And my disillusionment at the current state of the Knicks and the NBA had a friend recommending college basketball to me, which has me following and actually enjoying March Madness for the first time since my college won the Division III championship in 2001.

So, there are a lot of ways to get into sports in general, a sport or team in particular. Sometimes it takes a winning run. Some people may say I jumped on the Giants bandwagon by not being a fan till their playoff run this season. I say, I hated football before that run, and that streak made me see how much fun that game could be. Now I can't wait till next season. Sometimes it takes a cute player. Many athletes make nice eye candy. If you don't care about the game, it's still fun to watch a cute guy in tight pants running around. But it turns out that while you were ogling David Wright or Joe Mauer or Grady Sizemore, you discovered that they're actually great baseball players as well. And you started paying attention to their stats. And to the not-as-attractive but just as talented players sharing the field with them. Sometimes you just want to meet a guy (and sports bars are the place to do it) but now you can actually talk to him about the game, too, impressing him even more. Or maybe you wanted to impress your boyfriend's friends, and won't they be jealous at the cool chick he was able to land who's both cute and sports-savvy?

Whatever the deal, sports are not just for guys, and games are not just for girls. I'm not an expert by any means, but I love the game, and I'm learning more every day, and this is just a girl's perspective on that world. Like I said, it's fun, it's exciting, and it makes you feel powerful - who doesn't want to be a part of that?!?

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