Saturday, August 20, 2016
It's Just Weird ... Falling Out of Love with ...
... sports. I don't really know how it happened--I know only that I didn't will it to happen. But happen it did. And few things have surprised me more.
Those who have known me for a long time know of my quondam passion for sports--for playing, watching, listening, reading about (in the newspapers). One of the great thrills in my life was seeing my name for the first time on the sports page of the Kent-Ravenna Record Courier, which, by the way, often misspelled my name. I was Donny Dyer and Danny Dwyer and other versions. But I didn't care that much. We had an ongoing joke on our Hiram High School basketball team: If you score even one point, you get your name in the paper. A thrill no matter how many numbers follow!
When we moved to Hiram, Ohio, in summer of 1956 (I was about to turn 12), it didn't take long for me to fall in love with the Cleveland Browns. They held their summer training camp at Hiram College, and I saw Jim Brown and Lou Groza and Paul Warfield and many others over the years. I even played ping-pong with RB Ernie Green (and I lost very quickly). I watched them faithfully (obsessively?) until they released QB Bernie Kosar. I lost interest, haven't watched any football games in probably a decade.
In high school I played basketball and baseball. In college I was on the tennis team--and I played tennis afterwards for years at a nearby racket club.
Haven't played tennis in probably twenty years--maybe longer.
It took me a little longer to fall for the Indians. They had a very bad record throughout my youth, and I'd come to Ohio a Yankees fan. But that eventually changed, and I became a big Tribe fan--listening in bed to broadcasts from the West Coast, going to many games--later, watching virtually all of them (often reading something while doing so).
But I haven't watched a Tribe game in five years or so. Or listened. I couldn't name more than a player or two.
The Cavs came along later, too (they were an expansion team), but I was obsessive about them in their near-misses in those years with Mark Price, et al. Price hailed from my hometown of Enid, Okla.; I once saw him in a local grocery store, and we talked amiably about Enid--I was shocked that he was hardly taller than I; I'm 5'8".
I haven't watched a Cavs' game in five or six years. Didn't watch any of the recent playoffs.
I no longer read the sports pages at all.
So what happened?
I don't know. And--please--it's not as if I sit around and sniff about how superior I am. I don't and I'm not. I just really have no interest. I was not even tempted to watch the Cavs' recent Game 7. I'm happy they won--but mostly because that win seemed to make so many others happy.
So, again, what happened?
Again ... I don't know. Some of it probably was due to my cancer diagnosis later in 2004. Suddenly, things got very serious, and I realized that Time and Decline and Death were not just words to apply to other people.
Some, probably, has been due to aging. I couldn't play tennis now if I wanted to (knees, elbow, etc.). Playing catch with my 11-year-old grandson is almost beyond me (that boy throws hard). I know I'm gonna get bonked in the face one of these days!
Mostly, I think, it's just ... falling out of love. Amiably so. A divorce without affect. Without rancor or resentment of any kind.
Our son still loves sports. Our older grandson (11) loves sports, and is very good at baseball and basketball, and is beyond very good in golf. He's already shooting in the 70s--from the regular tees. (Actually, I realize I have seen baseball and basketball games recently--those starring (!!) our grandsons.)
And I'm happy for all who love the games. Loving an activity brings obvious joy to so many people. My own loves have changed, that's all.
Still ... it continues to puzzle the hell out of me ...