Saturday, November 11, 2006

Confessions of a Sports Bigamist

My wife told me it was time to get help. "No, it's cool, I can handle it." No dice. The gaggle of family and friends in my living room agreed with her. They didn't like me the way I was. They didn't like what this problem was doing to me. I couldn't handle their accusing stares and sharp words, and decided it was time.

I checked the local newspaper for dates and times of meetings, found one I liked and went down to the local community center. A few burnouts stood outside, puffing furiously on cigarettes. Inside the community center, the stench of desperation hung like a fog. I looked around, didn't see a soul I knew. "This is hard", I thought. "I'm not sure I can handle it."

I half-listened to the stories of families and friendships torn asunder by this all-too-common problem, thinking, "nah, I'm not like that." I thought maybe I could sneak out without anyone noticing. I started to edge toward the exit, but before I could, the group leader, a man fully recovered from his problem, pointed to me and said, "I see we have a new member with us this evening. Why don't you introduce yourself to the group?"

Damn. Busted.

Time to face the music.

"My name is Phil, and I'm a Sports Bigamist."

"Hi Phil!"

"Hi. I've been following college football since I was 8. That's how I learned to count by sevens...which, come to think of it, is about the only practical use for that skill. Anyway, I grew up in the far reaches of Upstate New York."

"You mean Buffalo?" interjected a guy with a San Francisco Giants cap and an LA Dodgers t-shirt. Wow, I thought I had problems.

"No", I responded, "a lot farther north than that. Suffice to say, there wasn't a lot of big-time sports in the area. The closest thing to a local sports team was the Montreal Canadiens. Well, there was the Montreal Expos..."

"WHO?" asked the entire room.

"Never mind. Anyway, growing up, I was pretty much left to my own devices when it came to picking my teams. Not much local pressure, no real strong family ties to any one team or other, and no real role models when it came to this stuff. I fell in love with certain teams for one reason or another, but when it came to college football, I had a really hard time of it. I loved the tradition of Michigan football, the maize and blue, the most awesome football helmets ever, the famous fight song, the three yards and a cloud of dust philosophy of Bo Schembechler, the 32 (at that time) Big Ten titles. But I also came to love the 'in your face' philosophy of Miami football..."

"Miami-Florida or Miami-Ohio?" asked someone.

"Miami-Florida," I responded. Retard. I continued, "the great passing game, the legitimate 'us against the world' philosophy before it became an embarrassing cliche, the ultra-talented teams. I just couldn't pick between the two, and frankly, I've been conflicted ever since."

"Let's all thank Phil for sharing. And welcome to the group, Phil."

After the meeting, I was talking to the person sitting next to me. He was wearing one of those half-n-half jerseys that people often buy when their favorite player gets traded. The ones Ray Bourque made popular when he was traded from the Bruins to the Avalanche. In this case, he was wearing a Jay Fiedler Jets-Buccaneers jersey, which I didn't even know existed.

"Yeah, there's some real sad stories here. You saw the guy who can't pick between the Dodgers and Giants?"

"Yeah, I did. How's he live with himself?"

"Don't know. There was a guy who used to come around here who cheered for Duke and North Carolina."

"Really?"

"Yeah. We think he shacked up with some girl who cheered for the Cubs and Cardinals."

"Enablers."

"Compared to them, you're not so bad, Phil. Hey, you're not cheering for Ohio State, right?"

I uttered an unprintable expletive at the mention of THE Ohio State University. Not only had they spoiled more than a few Michigan seasons, but they blatantly stole the 2002 national title from The U.

He chuckled and said, "It's not as though Miami and Michigan play each other. The last time it happened was probably before you started following college football."

"It was 1988. I was young and foolish then." As opposed to being old and foolish now.

"What side were you on?"

"Can't remember. It's all a haze to me. Maybe that's why I'm here."

I said my good-byes, promised to return next week, and left the meeting. It was cool outside, with just a slight mist in the air. The kind of weather that reminds you that it's college football season. And that, in turn, reminded me of my problem. But there's hope in the air, too. I'll get through this.

I've just got to take it one day at a time.

1 Comments:

Blogger The Ham said...

I am a reformed Michigan-hater, having been shown the error of my ways by a kind and beautiful UM alumna who threatened de facto sterilization if I did not come aboard the Wolverine bandwagon.

However, I still have a problem with their helmets. Tradition, Schmadition -- it looks like a flying blonde moustache.

12:12 PM  

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