You’re going to have to bear with me; I think this one is going to be a bit all over the place.
There are really only two sports teams that I feel invested in, and they are my beloved Cincinnati Reds and the WVU Mountaineer basketball team. I’m also quite interested in the Mountaineer football team, but I honestly never expect much of them. Sorry; you can argue, but I haven’t been proven wrong about that.
My use of the word “invested” might be questionable, because I ultimately don’t have anything riding on the outcomes of games played by either of these teams; still, I’m personally invested. I think of all of my “favorite teams,” and I see them broken down into two categories; this first category is comprised of teams that I came to follow because of a person in my life, while all of the teams I don’t feel invested in are teams I began following because I was a fan of someone I’ve never met.
I’m a Reds fan because of my dad, and I’m a Mountaineer fan because of Mrs. Harris. Neither of them could take the rock to the hole like Dr. J, but they were flesh and blood, in my life every day, people who loved me and took an interest in me, and my fandom of the teams I associate with them leads me to be personally invested. When the Reds win, Dad wins, and when the Mountaineers win, Mrs. Harris does.
I say this is going to be a bit all over the place because it’s not even about any of the things or people I’ve mentioned to this point; rather, it’s about how important and impressionable it is when we take some time to get involved in the life of a child.
I was about nine Mrs. Harris asked my parents if I could start coming over to keep stats for her while she listened to the her beloved alma mater’s basketball team on the radio. That’s how I came to spend a couple nights each week of the months of December, January, and February for about four years during my youth listening to Mountaineer basketball.
We’d sit there and listen to the game, eating cookies or sandwiches, and I would keep track of Mountaineer scoring and the running score. I don’t even know if she cared to have the stats; maybe she was just giving a boy the chance to see if he liked something. I like to think it was this last, because she certainly did that. I had my first writing job when I was 14, covering high school and local sports for the Montgomery Herald, and I’m still writing today, all of that coming from an ability to keep stats. (I was a legacy to my brother Steve–whose first year out of high school was my first year in–as a statistician and as a writer for the newspaper, and I may have also been a legacy of his when it came to Mrs. Harris.)
So much of my life has been molded because a person took enough of an interest to show me something, and I draw on that every day as a parent.
You’ll understand how pleased I was last night when the Mountaineer basketball team came from 14 down in the second half to win by four over Missouri; yes, the Mountaineers won, but even more than that, Mrs. Harris won, and she didn’t have to score the rock or d-up on the press even once. Booyah, old girl.
And you can also imagine how pleased I am now that the Mounties are 15-1, number 2 in the nation, and welcoming back Esa Ahmed. I really have high hopes for this season. Mrs. Harris certainly would have been happy about this.