I’m not what you would call sporty. I’m tall and lanky so I have been mistaken for sporty,
“She’s of a height that could be generally effective.”
But in reality, my long limbs and awkward gait have been more of a liability.
In 6th grade I was recruited (a word I use loosely as I attended a small, Catholic school where anyone who was willing was allowed) to join the basketball team. The biggest contribution I made to my team was that I sported some killer FILA’s.
In 8th grade I was a cheerleader. Again, for my tiny, Catholic school and it’s tiny, Catholic teams. I had braces and sharp elbows. It wasn’t a good look.
In high school I ran cross-country. Not because I enjoyed running long distances (minor detail), but because it was the only activity that started in the Summer, and thus I figured I’d at least know people when I started at a brand new school as a Freshman. I have to admit, that logic was sound and pretty brilliant strategizing because I walked in on my first day linked arms with a cool, blonde Freshman who was particularly adept at applying eyeliner on her waterline (all the rage in 1999).
That’s a girl who is clearly all about the running
The running lasted a specularly mediocre two seasons before I discovered choir and theatre. Hello, I’m clearly much more suited as an awkward theatre kid than I am an awkward athlete.
All to say, despite my dabbling, sports have never really been my thing.
Fast forward to Spring, 2015. I’m heavily pregnant and recently transplanted to Oakland. The Golden State Warriors make the playoffs. I start to pay attention.
May 2015: My son is born. The Warriors make the Finals.
June 2015: The Warriors take the title for the first time in 40 years and Oakland loses its collective mind.
They held the victory parade on my street. I stood bouncing my newborn son to sleep in the fresh postpartum haze of profound love and total exhaustion, watching throngs of ecstatic fans pass our windows. I don’t know if it was the sleep deprivation or the hormones or both, but I cried. Everyone was just so earnestly thrilled and proud of their team, their city, their boys. It didn’t seem like just a basketball game anymore. It became everything.
My son is now almost two and already “basketball” is a large part of his vocabulary. He points to his dad’s Warriors hat and says “basketball hat”. He points to my Draymond Green jersey and says “basketball shirt.” We are raising our son to be devoted to a team that is not only phenomenal on the court, but essential to the make up of our city.
Dreaming of shooting threes
I’ve been a fair-weather fan of my schools teams (Zot-Zot!) (I-L-L!), but I have not had team devotion like this. My family got together to watch the (devastating) game 7 last year against the Cavs and we cried, SOBBED, when they lost. This season I have upped my game by listening to the pre-and post-game analysis on the radio, following the Dubs on every social media platform, sporting the gear, watching the stats — I am 100% a Warriors fangirl.
My bracket debate face, apparently. Sportsplaining?
We live 5 miles from Oracle Arena, where the Warriors play (though not for much longer before they move to San Francisco. That’s another post for another day but insert massive eye roll here). But because we had a newborn who was then an infant and then a toddler, we haven’t had much time, energy or funds to actually attend a game.
Then I got the best gift ever.
My mom got me Warriors tickets for Mother’s Day. Excuse me, Warriors PLAYOFF tickets. She watched our kiddo while my husband and I zoomed off to Oracle and proceeded to witness our Dubs DOMINATE.
The game was incredible. I was overwhelmed, over joyed, overwrought, bursting with complete pride and elation at watching these guys rep Oakland and do so with grace and style. I love them.
Cheering for sports ball is no different than cheering for your favorite actress or musician or lecturer or author. Arts and sports are not so different. A good game has drama and intrigue and storytelling and mind games and trickery and human interest. After all, professional sport is theatre.
At the very least, I’ve developed a new hobby. I am no expert and am certainly learning with every game I watch. But I’m enthusiastic and interested and watching the games together has brought my little family of three even closer.
I’ve lived all over the country and I have never felt more rooted, more connected to a city than I do in Oakland. It may sound cheesy, but I owe much of that to the Warriors.
I may not have been gifted with athleticism, but I have discovered the inner basketball fan in me and it has given me a sense of place, pride and home.
If there’s a lesson to be learned here, let yourself be open to exploring new interests. You never know how it will hit you or what it will do for you. It doesn’t have to come naturally to have a profound impact.
Though I must admit, it helps if you have Steph Curry on your team.