Play Ball!

Is there a 12-step program for sports fans? If there isn’t, there should be. Have you seen the TV commercial in which the Washington Redskins fans—all men by the way—put on dresses, makeup, giant pig snouts, wigs, and ladies’ hats then parade off to the game? Houston, we’ve got a problem. What about face painters or drunk fans who attend football games shirtless, in places like Chicago, in mid-winter?

I’m not wearing a dress to a football game (unless fans of my team start doing this), however, I’m not sure I’m any less fanatical than they are. I live, eat and breathe sports. Every morning, while I’m supposedly watching Scooby Doo or Sesame Street with the kids, I’m checking the sports scores on ESPN. It’s not until the kids scream or my son yells “Doo” fifteen times, that I change the channel. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Half of my wardrobe says Mets or Jets on it. When we go on vacation, I’ll pack my clothes. My wife then repacks my clothes and replaces all my Mets or Jets shirts with non-sports related shirts (and shirts without holes). I also have a hat for every sports season.

My kids’ wardrobe is also laden with Jets, Mets, and Knicks attire. For my son’s birthday, an Uncle suggested that he’d get my son a baseball jersey for a team other than the Mets. “I’ll burn it,” I joked. However, I’m not so sure I was joking.

“I can’t have my kids root for another team,” I said to my wife.

“I know a good psychiatrist.”

“Is he a Mets fan?’”

Then there are the lengths to which I’ll go to watch a game. About 20 years ago, there was a movie with Robin Williams and Kurt Russell, The Best of Times, in which Williams is a fanatical football fan. Williams is invited to a romantic dinner and proceeds to set up his place at the dinner table so he can view a football game on TV, unbeknownst to his date. When one team fumbles the ball, Williams screams and blows his cover. I’ve actually done this, except, in my case, it was a family dinner and I didn’t blow my cover.

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine won a free luxury box to a Mets game, which included free drinks, free food, VIP treatment, etc. I was invited but it was the same day as a family christening. Of course, selfishly, I chose to go to the Mets game. At least I realize I have a problem. Unfortunately, I’ve also come to realize there are now about 10 channels of ESPN (not including pay-per-view).

My sports addiction isn’t all bad, though. In fact, it’s led to some funny moments. When my daughter was two, a neighbor asked Lexy what her name was. She excitedly responded, “Alexandra….Alexandra Mets.” I grinned from ear to ear—my wife, well, she didn’t find it quite as funny.

I also recently took my daughter to her first baseball game. We had a great time and it’s an experience I’ll always cherish. I can’t wait to take my son to his first game. (As long as the Mets win, that’ll be a great day, too.)

There are other positive things resulting from my sports fanaticism as well. Sports provide a special bond between my father and me. We have memories of games we attended and watched 20 years ago and sports always give us something to talk (and complain) about.

So maybe I don’t need a 12-step program after all, perhaps, just an occasional reminder to keep sports in perspective. As long as that reminder doesn’t come on Super Bowl Sunday, I’ll be fine.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Play Ball!

  1. seth

    Nice piece! Brad, you know I’m a huge Mets, Jets and Knicks fan. I once had a friend who was a Yankee fan, who had a new born. I got his kid one of those baby Mets outfits. The friend was not happy.

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