This is a post about nothing more than why I came to love sports. It’s not just football; I have a true appreciation and interest in all kinds of sporting events. That seed was planted by these two people:
My mother and father.
I’m inspired to write about them because my mother’s birthday is coming up on Thursday. That’s right, Thanksgiving. I remember many years celebrating her birthday on Thanksgiving Day, and watching football. LOTS of football. My mother would have marked her 78th year on Thursday. She passed away in 2009 of ovarian cancer. I certainly have things that belonged to her- I have photographs, I resemble her, and I have so many memories of her. One of the best things she helped give me was a love of sports.
I can’t leave my father out, of course! Daddy, hope it’s OK that I plastered your photo up on the Interwebz! That’s one of my favorite photos of Daddy and C. Actually, C is in both photos. It’s just that she looks like a bean with hair in the one with my mom.
OH COME ON, OF COURSE SHE’S THE CUTEST BABY IN THE WORLD!!! She knows I love her.
And, we’re back! OK, parents and sports. When I was growing up, we lived in the country, a few miles south of Austin. I had a horse, I played softball, I climbed trees, and I had a mini-bike (thanks, Daddy!). Oh, I loved that mini-bike. I’d put on my sparkly red helmet and drive all over the back roads near our house, singing the Heat Miser theme at the top of my lungs. Yes, true story. When I decided at the age of 10 I wanted to play softball, my dad took me in the front yard and made me play “burn-out” with him. Here was my dad, all 6’2” of him, slinging a softball at my face as hard as he could. At least, that’s what it felt like. He taught me how to catch, he taught me how to not be afraid of the ball. He taught me to try my best and enjoy the competition. And no matter how badly we lost, he always praised me. My mother, on the other hand, almost got pitched out of a couple of games for yelling at the umpire. Oh, mom. That’s so “you!” Keep in mind this was the 1970s, so all the money went to boys’ sports. We had the leftover fields, there were sticker patches, we had no lights, and often a parent had to step in to be the umpire. But we played on, and it was such a great experience for me.
We also watched football as a family. Every Sunday, Monday, Thursday, whatever—we were watching the Dallas Cowboys. Those were the days of America’s Team. Tom Landry! Roger Staubach! Danny White! Jay Novacek! OK, he was later, but I had to throw him in since he’s my all-time favorite. My mom always got a kick out of the kicker, Efren Herrera. We loved our Cowboys.
The football love didn’t stop there. I was in the band, so I was always at the football games. All right, there were times when I was maybe talking to my friends or something rather than watching the game. Once or twice. I also started attending UT games, and that was a real experience for me. I’ve been a lifelong ‘Horn, as you may have picked up from my posts!
My love of sports doesn’t stop with football. There’s baseball, lacrosse, basketball, soccer—I might not understand the rules, but I’ll watch anyway! There are so many sports I want to learn about, like rugby and hurling. No, I’m serious. Look it up. Folks who know me from the olden days in Austin will remember my participation in adult softball leagues, and my foray into NASCAR racing. Hey, I went all the way to Talladega! Dale Earnhardt won. They’re exciting in person, I swear.
And, this all goes back to my parents. My dad and I still talk sports pretty often, and I know he reads my blog (thanks, Daddy!). My mother lived in Dallas for a few years. While she was there she really cemented her Cowboys fanhood. She had Dallas Stars season tickets, and followed hockey every. Single. Year. On the weekends, if you called, you were taking the chance she’d answer the phone with some variation of, “I’m watching (sport) on TV and (my favorite team) is about to score! Call me later!” But above all others, she really, truly, deeply loved the Longhorns. Every time I watch a game, I think of her, and how when I moved to Oregon we’d talk on the phone during Texas games, complaining and celebrating together.
So Happy Birthday mom. Thanks for everything. And Hook ‘em Horns!