When I was a young girl, sporting events were frequently on the TV in our home. My three brothers loved sports. I would watch and listen as they talked about the game, analyzed the plays and quoted stats for individual players. When they were watching the games, I really wasn’t paying attention, but I was often nearby. I was also nearby when my oldest brother Henry would call from New Jersey to discuss the latest games. It really is amazing how much the brain can absorb even when you believe that it is not engaged.
My brother Johnny subscribed to the newspaper. When the paper was delivered Johnny would immediately grab the sports section and toss the other sections to the side. This is really where I believe my love of reading first began. When Johnny would start reading the sports section, I started reading all the other sections. If there were words on a page, I read them. When Johnny was finished with the sports section, I read that too. The more I read it, the more I understood. I soon gained an appreciation for sports.
I loved the athletic skill and strategy required. I began to enjoy an array of sporting competitions. Recently when I was checking out at of a store, I noticed that the cashier, a young black male, was wearing a jacket with the NBA logo. I asked him who was his team, if he watched the all-star game, Michael Jordan’s documentary and if he saw last year’s NBA final. We moved from basketball to football. His responses were immediate, and I enjoyed the conversation. I told him the truth: That I can be a fair-weather fan. I followed the Chicago Bulls in their heyday with Jordan, followed the San Antonio Spurs when they had Tim Duncan and now followed the Warriors with Steph and Clay. I also said I expected Brady and The Buccaneers to take it all. He said Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs would win The Super Bowl. I really enjoyed our conversation.
The young man said he watched sports with his dad and had tried to get his sister to watch with them, but she was not interested. I told him to tell her that years later I still enjoy having conversations with my brothers about sports. My brother Donny and I had a long conversation just this morning about March Madness and who we are following. The interest my sisters and I developed in sports further cemented our relationships to male members of our family. I also told him to tell his sister (who he had shared was twenty something and just starting her career) that there was also another unexpected benefit to learning about sports. Sports helped me bond at work with male colleagues. Bonding over sports turned out to be a definite advantage in work relationships with various staff that I managed at different periods in my career. Conversations around sports fostered communication, camaraderie and teamwork. Any way you look at it, that’s a win-win for everyone. Go Lady Gamecocks!!