So...HAPPY CHAMPAGNE FRIDAY! Pop a cork, put your feet up, and feel the salty breeze brush your face (isn't that 583729% better than skimming over this during your microwaved lunch in a partitioned cubicle? Thought so. Cue the Jimmy Buffet).
Tasked with spinning a story of how I first got into sports, I was instantly stuck. I don't remember exactly. I know that the University of Kentucky Wildcat was on at least 1/2 of my wardrobe as a WeeAlly. Then there was the basketball goal in the driveway. And not one of those half-assed goals with the sand in the base either. I watched one Saturday as Army Dad dug the hole in the ground (and, if memory serves, put me in it to show how deep it was) and then cemented the thing into the Bluegrass soil. The house may blow away in a tornado, but that basketball goal will outlive us all.
A head of cotton-white hair with double cowlicks and a gap between my front teeth made me one of the less desirables in my neighborhood. But I had the indestructible basketball goal. Goal in cement outranks gappy teeth and a fro. My basketball goal brought all the boys to the yard. Even as I watched from my bedroom window, I knew that in this one microscopic way, I was popular. Thanks Dad...for the sweat and the cement.
And that's how I began my love and healthy respect for James Naismith's game of ball and bucket. Games of H-O-R-S-E with Dad after dinner. Practicing my lay-ups for team try-outs in middle school. Missing it all when my parents divorced and we moved out of the house with the frayed net and worn rim.
I tried to play soccer once. Let me tell you something about that sport. Practices and games begin when it's still spitting freezing rain in Kentucky. And everything starts early...like 8 AM on a Saturday morning...when the rest of the world is dreaming of crisp waffles and warm maple syrup. And you're out there wiping rain from your eyes, defending a goal when you would rather be watching Fraggle Rock. Screw that. Do you know why basketball games start at 1 PM, at the earliest? Because that is polite. Soccer is for insomniacs. That's not me. Also, when you play a sport outdoors, in the rain, there is a chance you will catch something. Like pneumonia. My parents tried to off me once but I caught on to their evil plot and quickly handed in my cleats and shin guards. I'm too smart to die of a respiratory disease on a soccer field.
Soccer players have very tights
Also...in high school, they made me run a mile before basketball practice and I decided that was barbaric. So I took up tennis. I could stuff balls up my underwear and grunt like a man. What's not to love? But by the time I graduated, I was trading in my tennis skirts for halter tops and cans of balls for fraternity boys. Tailgating was infinitely more enjoyable than actually sweating and exercising. And if I asked enough questions about the sport, I could land more free drinks (attention college boys: she doesn't care about what the line judge's job is. She wants you to buy her a mojito. Save your breath and open your wallet. Just sayin'). Except...after awhile I began to understand and, gasp, enjoy the game. And then I started yelling louder than the guys. And coaching from my couch. And embarrassing my boyfriends.
So, I married a man who would rather watch Discovery Channel than Sunday night's game, but doesn't mind when I cry over a loss to West Virginia (it might have been more painful than losing to Duke). And, from time to time, he will even take me to a game because he realizes that the way to a woman's heart is sometimes through the end zone. He has learned that being an athletic supporter is not such a hard job after all.
UK vs FL
SEC Championship game