I remember when I was younger, I vowed I would never yell at a television for something sports related. I would never get worked up over a sports game. Never would I think about dating someone who was so into sports that they would shout at players and coaches, scream if something great happened, or so help me, cry if they lost. Never would I *gasp* play a fantasy sport; please I’m not a sports nerd. It didn’t make sense to me – this insane draw to cheer over men sweating, grunting, and smacking each others butts. I could never quite understand how dudes could store so many names in their heads; sports players, teams, coaches, etc. Sure, I loved figure skating. I would watch every competition. I knew about all of the skaters and eagerly anticipated the winter Olympics every year, but there are only a handful of names right there.
So when did this happen?
Silly little naive me. I went on to break all of my vows and I didn’t even become a recreational fan – I have a fantasy team. It started in high school. I was in marching band. I hated it. I didn’t like football – I still don’t. But I dated people who were into sports and made friends with those who did. Soccer. I think that’s what started it. I went to my brother’s indoor soccer games. I was excited about the outcome! Sure I cared if my high school won things. It was awesome when they won states for Volleyball. Our tiny school nestled in the woods and swamps of north western Pennsylvania dominating larger schools with well known names all across the state.
My brother’s county baseball team would trek down to Pittsburgh every year and I would tag along. My dad took my brother and I to a hockey game when we were really young. I think I liked it? I don’t remember much. He tried taking us to a football game, but neither my brother nor I could focus on it. That was a disaster.
My name is Mattie and I’m addicted to sports – mostly hockey.
I had my first hit on the hockey pipe when I was in high school. I was invited to my friend’s house to watch the Stanley cup final in 2004 when the Lightning beat out Calgary. My friend was bummed – he loves Iginla. It was a glorious event. Um, not glorious that my friend was bummed, but the game was just glorious. I was hooked ever since. And then it happened. The lockout. The year without hockey. What was I going to do? I had my first taste of the fast paced raw energy that was hockey. And then poof, it was all taken away.
I went to countless Erie Otters games that year. Every Thursday and Sunday through rain, through shine, through 2 feet of snow, my friends and I would pile into a car or two and head up to Erie to watch the OHL teams battle it out in the Civic Center. I had no hope for return. After that year – my senior year – it was off to Pittsburgh. On October 5, 2006, I found myself listening to Christina Aguilera not mess up the lyrics to the national anthem as the Pens took the ice for their home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers. This was back when the stadium was half empty and you didn’t have to stand in line for 6 hours for student rush tickets (which was the case a bit later in the season).
I’m not going to thank Sidney Crosby for my new found love of hockey. It was everything about it and I’m not talking about the sexy players – they are the icing on the cake. I stand a new woman. Someone whose screams and yells at the TV especially in 2009 when the Pens were battling it out for the cup. Someone who goes to the bar just to watch hockey. Someone who owns a jersey and some shirts. Someone who can name all of the teams in the NHL and who follows the twitter feeds and news feeds during free agency and up to the trade deadline. Someone who, in July, is anxious ANXIOUS I tell you, about the upcoming season.
Its not just hockey – though that is the only sport I really get into. In the summer of 2006, my boyfriend at the time got my a Cole Hamels shirt for my birthday and insisted that I become a Philly’s fan. Don’t worry, Pittsburgh, I’m a swashbuckler through and through now. We went to at least 3 games a month while I lived in Philadelphia. It was wonderful. I learned about baseball and the players and all that jazz. I moved back to Pittsburgh and tried to get to quite a few games and then to DC – more games! – and then now here in San Francisco where the games are twice as expensive as they were in Pittsburgh. I miss it. I’m jonesing to go to a game. I’m going to need my baseball fix soon, though nothing can compare to the view from PNC park.
It doesn’t stop at baseball and hockey. My friend from home has me on a steady diet of men’s tennis. I would like to thank Rafa for the whole start of that addiction. Soccer? Yes please. A vacation where I’m driving around to different baseball stadiums for games isn’t so crazy to me anymore.
The Olympics are an overload! I don’t even know what to do with myself.
The only thing I still go out of my way to avoid? Football. It will never get its grimy paws on me.