It astonishes me that I only stumbled on the last ten minutes of this year’s World Series on television last night by accident. I used to pay much more attention. I’d say it’s a sign of getting older (and busier), but I’ve waxed and waned in my support of all sports over the years (decades) and I don’t think there’s any one reason.
I loved athletics best in school…. Let me translate: I loved track and field best in high school (I forget I’ve been 25 years in the US and slip back into the old language rather too easily). But that was about it. I was never much of a team player. Probably severely affected by being chosen as the goal keeper for several hockey games in my first year at grammar school (about 6th grade). No, not ice-, grass-hockey… though ice was the issue. Our school’s hockey season was in the autumn and it was so cold just standing around in the goal that my knees turned purple. I decided team games sucked. So in the end I played squash in the winter, tennis and, okay, ‘track and field’ in the summer. I always loved running, and still do.
After leaving (high) school I went to Leeds University and joined the Athletics Club. But we had to have a ‘team’ bus to take us to the nearest track to train and on the Sunday after the clocks went back (yup, 43 years ago about this time of year) I stood out an hour before the bus was due to arrive (oblivious to my mistake) and after 20 minutes gave up, went back to my flat and didn’t try to go and train again (also too many distractions I think).
Since then I have invariably preferred to workout or run, when I do so, alone. Yes, as I said, I’m not exactly a team player. Is it any wonder I made my career in a business that allows me to sit inside a back box for hour after hour talking to myself?
I’ve really enjoyed some years of American Football and Baseball on TV, but not so much recently. When I was at Leeds University I was introduced to American Football (that same academic year I missed the bus) when I caught the very brief summary of the 1975 Super Bowl that ITV presented the Saturday after it occurred (ITV was the ‘not the BBC’ channel in the UK and often covered obscure sports like ‘American’ football). I was hooked and rode the wave of increasing interest in American Football in the UK right through to the first NFL Europe – World Bowl at Wembley Stadium, when the London Monarchs defeated the Barcelona Dragons (1991). I was actually there – and still have my team cap!!
When I moved to California it was in the golden years of Joe Montana with the SF 49ers – followed by Steve Young, Jerry Rice and many other hall of famers. I loved watching American Football then. Despite the Niner’s many failures since I continued to watch as much as I could – but I think the awareness of the damage being done to young athletes by the rigors of the game (have you read the book ‘Concussion’? – my friend Hilary Huber does a fine recording on audio – link here) have soured the game for me and I’ve only seen a minute or two of a couple of games the past few seasons.
Baseball’s failure to grab my attention recently may be easier to explain. After not having a clue how about the rules when I arrived from the UK I have grown in my appreciation of the game especially since the SF Giants made it to the WS in 2002. Of course my fair-weather fandom was off the charts by 2010 and 2012 and… yes, 2014. But since then, not only have I been much busier but I have finally moved away from San Francisco (and they’ve not been good the last couple of seasons). Even though I’m geographically closer to the LA Dodgers I can’t yet bring myself to support them… hence very little baseball watched this year.
I don’t know if I’m exactly a ‘fair-weather’ fan though it’s clear I do have a preference for a winning team. Maybe I’m more of a championship-fan. I still enjoy watching real football (soccer to you) and will always try to follow the World Cup when it comes around. And if I get the opportunity to see cricket I usually take advantage of that (but, really, who has the time?). I don’t think the NFL will ever win me back but I can see myself possibly finding baseball again.
Got to support my hometown team.
We were friends at the same school and we did occasionally train together (well before he became an Olympian).
He now has a statue on the seafront in Brighton…