This is complicated. I have a lot of feelings I need to sort out. It’s not that I don’t like the world of sports, the idea of sports, or their cultural weight. Such high-stakes drama! Years of practice and dedication, all for this one moment! The agony of loss! The thrill of a comeback!
There’s a reason a good deal of my favorite movies as a child were sports movies (do not buy me tequila shots and ask me to recite The Mighty Ducks front-to-back unless that’s exactly what you want to happen). But for some reason, even though I’ll spend two weeks of my life cloistered away binge-watching Friday Night Lights, I glaze over like I haven’t slept in days the minute someone turns on the TV for the actual, for-real, big game. I feel like this webcomic accurately conveys what this experience is like for me:
And God help me if I’m in a social situation where every single person around me suddenly feels the urge to weigh in on Sunday’s playoff game and I have nothing to say except, “Yeah, they were like… really throwing the ball a lot, huh?” That’s my cue to whip out my phone and hope BuzzFeed has just tweeted a new list of “Dogs Who Forgot How to Dog.”
I really wish I had a sport that I cared about, or was at least marginally excited about. It can get lonely in here, in my non-sportsing head. But I think it’s safe to say that, aside from the Olympics—which I consider a much more cinematically-adjacent drama-fest than your typical NBA season (Read: Tonya and Nancy, even 20 years later)—it’s just not going to happen for me. I recently voiced this concern to the guy in my life, and he promptly took it upon himself to instill in me a passion for basketball (or at least, an understanding of the game and why someone—i.e. him—might find it exhilarating). This resulted in a lot of pause-and-rewind during crucial moments in the games, followed by “OMGWTFBBQ LIZ WERE YOU WATCHING? DID YOU SEE THIS THING?”
“Oh you mean… that? Where he’s jumping? I saw that.”
We would then watch the shot approximately 3-4 more times until he was convinced that my enthrallment with the moment matched his own. I really do applaud his efforts. But it just hasn’t worked. He still rewinds all the shots, but now we both know he’s just doing it for his own enjoyment.
Upon finding out about my lack of enthusiasm for sporting events, people often ask me if I ever played sports as a kid. No, not really, unless you count my eighteen months of gymnastics classes (I fractured a vertebrae roleplaying My Little Pony one day and was forced to hang up my leotard and retire at the ripe old age of nine), my brief horseback riding stint (won one ribbon at a horse show, got thrown by a horse the next week, and quit the week after—literally did not get back on the horse), or the semester of field hockey I played in high school (I benched myself a lot—my old back injury was particularly unruly that year… maybe). Point being, it just wasn’t for me. I was a drama club kid, through and through.
My mom, thankfully, was sympathetic and padded my extracurricular schedule with art and creative writing classes. Her only caveat was that I had to take a dance class twice a year so I wasn’t just sitting on my ass eating Twinkies writing Sabrina The Teenage Witch spec scripts all day. I remember the day that a parent of one of my peers said to my mom (in front of me, I might add), “Aren’t you worried she won’t have any people skills because she never learned to be a team player? Sports help with that, you know. She should play volleyball.” I’ll admit that I sometimes think back to that moment on days when I’m feeling particularly socially inept and wonder if she was indeed correct. But you know what, lady? I did learn to be a team player, thank you very much! Putting on a play with other kids, learning to suck it up when your BFF got the lead role instead of you, and being loving and supportive towards that guy with stage fright or that girl who’s totally tone deaf—every one of these scenarios is one hell of a team-building exercise for a ten-year-old.
So, have I managed to lead a functional life despite the absence of sports? Yeah, I think so!
Is it socially uneasy every now and then? Sure, but that’s what “Dogs Who Forgot How to Dog” is for.
I think, by now, everyone forgives me for my incurable disinterest, and more importantly, I forgive myself. I’m not going to spend my time trying and failing to be keen on something I obviously have never really cared about. That’s just how it’s gonna be, folks.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think there’s an unfinished Sabrina spec on a floppy disk somewhere calling my name. GAME TIME.
Photo by Michelle White