Growing up in the south, you are taught the trinity of love: God, Family and Football. I think it all begins on the same Sunday you’re christened, surrounded by grandparents and second cousins twice removed. This event is followed by a lavish Sunday meal after which, the house is filled with screams of would be coaches who, of course, know the game better than the men on the sidelines. On Thanksgiving, we gather with our families in gratitude for our blessings. Then, we eat another lavish meal, (maybe food should be part of this trinity) after which, the ‘coaches’ crowd the room with the largest TV to scream obscenities at the idiots on the field. From Friday night lights in the fall to Super Bowl Sunday, football connects us.
I was raised with stories of high school football rivalries and a Redskins loving Grandmother, but my true passion for the game did not emerge until the turn of the century with the story of the Baltimore Ravens and their championship season. I identified with this team as they overcame individual issues like court scandals, the tragedy of miscarriage and a quarterback who was constantly told he could not do it. They were underestimated, verbally attacked and dismissed as thugs. Ultimately, they proved the naysayers wrong and came out victorious, together.
As a woman, it is the stories that fuel my love for sports. It’s the strategic planning that builds a defense to stop an offense from scoring. It’s the tunnel vision of the runner or sprinter who does not think about the competitor on their left or right but only sees the finish line. It’s the enormous dedication of an athlete to pursue excellence. Much of what makes me an avid sports fan is what happens before the players hit the field or get into the starting blocks. Because on the field, on the court or on the track, the only thing that matters is what you can do as the clock hits 0:00.