I am not a big sports fan. I cringe at people who have to watch every baseball, football or soccer game. I don’t understand yelling at the TV set or jumping up and down at a particular play or win. In a cynical and sarcastic way I tell people “I would only be excited if I had money riding on it.” But it’s true.
It’s a rarity but I watched two sporting events in one day yesterday: My daughter’s equestrian competition and the Superbowl. In an odd moment of transference, I got excited in ways I never imagined. Yikes, am I changing in ways never imagined?
My daughter’s equestrian show was a “Zone” qualifier. In her division, twenty of the top school riders competed. The top 5 go onto ‘zones’, a larger competition. I could tell she was nervous. She barely made eye contact with me all day. Any of my encouraging words were met with eye rolling. It was clearly a ‘talk to the hand” kind of moment. She had travelled to the competition with her team in an overloaded jitney bus and it was obvious from her body language that she didn’t want Mom to be there. But I knew if I didn’t go she would be so angry. A parent's paradox: when to be involved or when to stay away. So I went by myself driving the two hours to the wilds of Virginia. I cavorted with the other parents, kept my distance on the sidelines and crossed my fingers.
She placed in the top five. She squeaked in at fifth place but I didn’t care. Neither did she.
I cried. I am one big bucket of tears lately. I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of equestrian events. I can’t tell a lead change from a canter. But I can tell when my first born is happy. She was ecstatic. She was beaming. I was so proud.
I watched the Superbowl too last night. My Dad’s favorite team, the NY Giants had finally made it. I felt a tinge of sorrow that ironically my Dad didn’t make it to see this moment. He would have been glued to the TV with a whole afternoon of unhealthy snacks while watching the event at 100 decibels. For several years in the 1990’s, when he was still able to walk a fair distance, he held season tickets to the Meadowlands Stadium. He would go with a few friends and the preparation seemed to take weeks. There were the logistics of who was picking up whom, the tailgating, the food, taking a portable radio with an earplug to listen to the game calls and later a portable TV, etc. Although he rarely drank alcohol, he always took a hip flask with him. I wonder what exactly was in that flask. I don’t know. In fact I found it in his house not too long ago and there was no lingering smell of old whiskey or scotch. Knowing him it was probably chocolate milk or Coca-Cola. It doesn’t matter now. He was always happy and regaled in stories for weeks afterwards. He always loved the NY Giants and the NY Yankees. Even though we were from a neighboring state, the NY/NJ metro area banded together for most big sports events. The Giants' move to NJ cemented that allegiance.
Although most sports franchises really have nothing to do with the particular geography of the area they represent, it is the feeling that you are part of something bigger. You cheer with your neighbors or geographically close friends. I am a child of the NJ-NYC metro area. The game brought me back to a place that's familiar-home.
I was glad the Giants won. Somewhere my Dad is beaming. I am so happy my daughter won too. Beautiful job, sweetheart.
I had more than money riding on both games. I had pride.