It seems lately that we live in a land of champions, thanks to the glorious Red Sox and Patriots.
I grew up in a family that had little interest in spectator sports. My father and five brothers were more taken with skiing, rock climbing, hiking and the like. They seemed drawn to any sport that required the presence of an ambulance at the finish line. My children liked to play soccer and occasionally lacrosse. But I can never remember a time when we sat in front of the TV and watched a whole game of anything
My grandmother, a stately matron, followed baseball in the 1940s with passion. She would trot upstairs daily for an afternoon “nap” which was a cover for her listening to a game on the radio. I’m not sure which team held her loyalty; I have a sinking feeling it may have been the Yankees.
Working 27 years for newspapers forces one to become interested in sports by sheer osmosis. Many a deadline has been brazenly ignored in the interest of including the latest results of some game somewhere in the world, be it basketball in Brattleboro or soccer in Argentina. I can remember press times being pushed hard, during local contests. The whole staff would be hanging on a tiny little radio as basketball games in Montpelier were played out for some championship.
Then along came the Red Sox and the Patriots.
The Sox drew me into their particular mystique several years ago when our daughter married a rabid fan, a guy named Murphy. Their children have been thoroughly tutored in the rituals and superstitions that guide the Boston fans through the tortuous weeks of early fall. They know all the players. They automatically hiss and boo at the mere mention of Roger Clemens. They purr at the name Johnny Damon.
And this year the unbelievable happened and we all shared the joy of perfect victory after perfect victory.
And now there are those Pats. I’ve cut my football teeth watching the Patriots these last few years. I have even reached a certain level of understanding the game. I know about first downs, the line of scrimmage and why it is sometimes the right thing to kick for a three-pointer rather than keep pushing for a touchdown, especially when you’ve got Adam Vinatieri on your side.
I love it when somebody streaks down the field, yard after yard, and nobody can stop him and everybody is screaming. I love interceptions.
I’m a huge fan of quarterback Tom Brady. He’s so smart and such a nice boy. He appeals to the mother in me with the value he places on teamwork. I want to take him home after the game and make him some soup. Especially during one of those horrendous snow storms.
Football was once just a clash of meat heads as far as I was concerned. But getting to realize there’s more to it than a bunch of guys seemingly running all over the place, has helped. I’m still learning: I have no idea what a quarterback sneak is.
So when the game kicks off in Jacksonville next week I’ll be ready with chips and chili and a passable knowledge of what’s going on. At half time the Murphys will call to briefly check in and comment on how things are going.