For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid sports fan. Part of that may be my Buffalo sports DNA, but my interests range far beyond football and hockey. Lately I’ve taken an interest in sports that I didn’t even like before, somewhat akin to how I’ve evolved in my feelings about Brussels sprouts.
The sports that bored me the most were soccer and golf. Soccer, or more correctly, “football,” always seemed to be little more than an untoward amount of flopping around trying to draw fouls. When players are injured, they get taken off the “pitch” lying down in a plastic tub, which they then step out of upon reaching the sideline.
This seems a little silly when you are accustomed to watching blood-stained hockey players skating off the ice holding their teeth in their hands.
For the longest time I considered soccer to be the most tedious sport ever, finding it absolutely stultifying. I now confess to getting engrossed by the “beautiful game.” How did I not know how exciting those 0-0 scores were? This may not mean much given that I can also be transfixed watching the Roomba, but soccer sure seems more interesting these days.
Unexpectedly, it was the U.S. Women’s National Team that, ahem, kicked things off. I think their 2015 World Cup victory was the first time I ever watched an entire game of soccer. I used to change the channel and forget to change it back, but that match I watched from beginning to end. I stopped thinking of the game as the sporting equivalent of watching paint dry. Ever since, it’s been easier to watch the men running around, except for when the players bang heads going up for a ball. That makes me wince and grab my own head.
Golf has also caught my interest these days. It’s soothing to watch the ball soaring against a blue sky and landing on the green grass, to the polite applause of an adoring crowd.
It’s so civilized – people actually whisper! – and the skill level is amazing. No matter how bad a day one of the pros seems to have, it’s nothing compared with the stories of people I know who golf (unlike me).
The best anecdote I can personally tell was the time I accompanied a boyfriend on a round of golf. We were in the cart, bouncing around as I envisioned crashing at 5 mph, and I was happy to hop out even though it was Florida and there were lakes around the course. He took some time methodically preparing for his first shot while I scanned for critters.
“OK,” he said finally, “what you could do is watch the ball so you see where it lands and be able to tell me.” I nodded. He swung away and produced what in baseball we called a “worm burner.” There was silence. Then I pointed about 10 yards away and said, “It’s over there.” I love telling that story. Him, not so much.
The funniest thing about golf is that I have visited Scotland and it’s about the last place in the world a game like that should have been invented. No wonder the Scots have their own special whiskey.
I may give playing golf a try at some point instead of just spectating. Its leisurely pace seems to be just about the right speed for me these days.
Besides, no matter how badly one might play, there’s always the 19th hole, where an entirely different kind of round is available to help wash away any disappointment. Fore!