I can’t tell you how many times I was asked that question in September and October.
Often it was followed by another question:
"Do you follow football?"
Well, no. Never have.
I don’t think it’s the sport itself, however. Perhaps it’s all the bad memories I have of being in marching band: the endless practicing of the stupid half-time shows, riding the uncomfortable school buses to rural Oklahoma towns to tag along behind the football team. The team always got the glory; we got to freeze our butts and our reeds in the rock-hard bleachers, playing stupid songs nobody really wanted to hear anyway and, then at half-time, we got to go out and embarass ourselves on the field with our retarded little five-minute dog-and-pony show.
Get the idea that I hated band? But I became a musician? How did THAT happen?
I had to stay in my school music program to be eligible to participate in All-State Orchestra and Solo and Ensemble Contests every year. Thus, I suffered uniform inspections, pep rallies, parades, half-time shows, and summer band…and became a professional musician in spite of it all!
Incidentally,my high school sweetheart WAS on the football team–the Tahlequah Tigers, so the high school football team itself certainly cannot be to blame. Surely, young love would’ve countered my negative secondary school music experience.
Maybe my lack of interest in following football could actually be chalked up to the fact that I expend so much energy, time and–yes, quite frankly–money during the baseball season that I don’t care to follow some other sport.
Or so I thought.
With both a treadmill and an elliptical trainer right in our home, I have the luxury of being able to exercise whenever I want and to tune put on whatever TV channel I want. With upbeat pop and dance tunes on my iPOD and the TV muted with the closed-captioning on, I usually have on ESPN or sports of some sort. Unfortunatley, once the baseball season ends, those channels tend to be filled with more and more football (except for upt-to-the-minute news of A-Rod and George Steinbrenner, of course) and less baseball. Not finding an acceptable substitute for my sports channel addiction, however, I just continued to watch.
What I found was that I started getting interested in various teams and rankings and rivalries. Stories I had watched with some detachment while exercising I later read about in more detail in the New York Times Sports section the next morning.
No, I’m not ready to bundle up and go to the Meadowlands for a Giants game, but I did turn on some of the Cowboys-Giants game a couple of weeks ago. That’s really a first for me!
But this is REALLY a first for me: being interested in the outcome of a COLLEGE football game!
No, I’m not watching this particular game this evening. I must play a performance. I’ll just be checking the score at my intermission–probably half time of the game.
My parents’ alma mater, University of Kansas–known more for its basketball program than for its football program, has been surprising everyone with how well the Jayhawks are doing this season. Tonight on national television (8PM Eastern on ABC), they face their long-time rival, University of Missouri, in an important match-up.
Not having followed football, I did not know how bitter this rivalry was. My mother said, "Oh, YES!!" and probably would’ve elaborated further had time allowed.
I don’t know about more recent football history, but being a Civil War History buff myself, I have truly enjoyed the recent articles devoted to the long, LONG-time rivalry between the two STATES themselves. Technically, though, the discord began BEFORE Kansas was even a state. Whether or not slavery was to be permitted in the soon-to-be state, not a football championship, was at stake.
Articles like "A Rivalry Born in Bloodshed" (New York Times) and "The Border War" (SI.com) have mentioned the incidents of residents of Missouri (where slavery was legal) voting in Kansas elections to try to assist in passing legislation to legalize slavery in the new state, William Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas– home to the University of Kansas–and, of course, John Brown, the abolitionist who with his vigilante sons led many of the guerilla-like attacks–in defense of Lawrence and upon pro-slavery groups in Kansas territory and in Missouri.
As you can probably tell, I’ve had a blast experiencing a refresher course of sorts on my pre- and Civil War History…inspired by a sport–at the collegiate level–that I didn’t even know I was interested in!