Baltimore. Chicago. Los Angeles. Miami. No, this isn’t a list of places I’ve been (I’ve only been to Los Angeles), or a list of places I particularly want to visit. These are the cities of the four major sports teams my dad is a fan of: The Baltimore Orioles, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Miami Dolphins.
Oh and he grew up in Rhode Island.
That is the usual reaction my dad and I get on this topic. If you had told me at the beginning of 2018 that I would be writing a blog post about sports I would have laughed right in your face. Historically my relationship with sports hasn’t been very passionate – it’s not even very consistent (until recently) – more on that later.
I grew up with a mom, a dad, and an older brother. Sports was a big deal in my house (mom excluded). Game days were a big deal. As many kids do I naturally liked anything my dad liked. My dad grew up playing baseball so I also had a brief stint in softball (taking his number of course – 5) that lasted until I was eight or so. Over the Christmas holidays my dad said I was “good at it”, which means I could hit the ball and didn’t run around the bases in the wrong direction. When my dad and my brother would play wiffle ball I was also playing; trying to hit the ball over our backyard fence like they could. If they were shooting hoops in our driveway I was there too. My first sports jersey was Kobe Bryant when I was twelve. We went to PawSox games. We went to Providence Bruins games.
But let’s get back to the baffling question of why and how did my dad become a fan of the sports teams he chose? Family, of course! My dad also grew up with an older brother who was a fan of all New England sports teams but instead of emulating his big brother my dad decided to do the exact opposite and like almost every rival of his brother’s teams. Miami and L.A. checks out, Chicago not so much. My dad was initially a Red Sox fan until Tony C. got injured and traded. Until this day he will still say he did not like the way Boston Red Sox management treated him. As for the Orioles my dad was a third baseman and got the nickname “Brooks” after Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson so he jumped ship to Baltimore.
Growing up as a fan of New England rival teams isn’t easy but it was definitely easier to do pre-2000s. Let’s face it – New England sports teams didn’t do a whole lot of winning in the 90s. I was twelve going on thirteen when Tom Brady played in his first Super Bowl and won and I was beginning to think for myself and become my own person. By that time my parents had divorced and I wasn’t living with my dad for every single game day anymore. But as I got older I knew it was still not cool to bring home a Patriots fan. I dated a few but thankfully I ended up marrying a Cowboys fan – no bad blood there. I still sometimes check if his teams lost before I call him so I know what mood he is going to be in. This is a lifetime of learning.
Throughout high school and college my relationship with sports remained casual as I found my own interests. Casual meaning I am so down to drink and watch the playoffs and go to the parades DUH. And there was no shortage of that. From when I started high school in 2003 to when I graduated college in 2011 the Patriots had been in four Super Bowls and won two. The Celtics won the championship. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup (technically I had already graduated but still counts to me) and the Red Sox won the World Series twice.
As I head into 2019 where do I stand as a sports fan? I still find baseball boring to watch and I am on the fence with football. I’ve always been about a more fast paced game like hockey and basketball. It took me moving 3,000 miles away from home seriously latch on to a sports team again. There is nothing like that special kind of lonely that comes with being homesick that makes you want to hold on to something that feels familiar. So thank you Boston Bruins for getting me through this brief life detour in California. Also David Pastrnak. I am getting a little taste of what it was like for my dad to love a team from so far away.
On New Years Day my dad and I will be watching the Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks, both representing 88. Similar but different. Let’s go.
P.S. I would also like to thank Patrice Bergeron. Just for being himself.