And she said it with a straight face!
We are not a sports family. Not really.
I don't have one of those husbands who watches sports all the time, (he's always said he'd rather be out there playing than watching), although he can enjoy watching the Super Bowl with me or the NCAA tournament. The rest of the year, he really doesn't care.
He played a bit of basketball and ran track in school, and he loved playing football with friends. The high school football coach, seeing how fast he was, tried very hard to get him to play, but he held down a pretty good job all through high school and wouldn't give that up. Andrew ran track for a while, but really wasn't all that into it.
I'll get to the main story of this post soon -- I really will, but some background first.
I follow college basketball teams only when it's getting close to NCAA Tourney time. Well, I sort of have to. I'm from Kentucky. In Kentucky, when I was in school, there were days scheduled into the school calendar to take off for the state's Sweet Sixteen Tournament. In Kentucky you had classroom discussions about the Sweet Sixteen Tournament. In Kentucky if you had any kind of basketball program at all, you knew what other schools were in your region, who the top rivalries were, and how many times your school had been to the semi-finals and the finals. You knew what years your school's team won the state championship and who the star players were from that year and where they went after high school. In Kentucky your gym teacher was likely to have been a member of one of those championship teams. I went to my school's basketball games. I even went to the football games (I actually prefer watching football in person, and basketball on TV), although football took a really way-back back-seat to basketball. And you don't go to school in rural Kentucky without learning to pledge your allegiance to one of Kentucky's top basketball colleges. I chose UK. I think it was as much because my Dad was a UK basketball fan as much as anything else, and I really enjoyed watching the games with him. Even after I was married, we would call up each other during tournament time and discuss how UK was doing. I was the only child he had that he could do that with, and even if I hadn't enjoyed it -- and I did -- I would have done it.
I'm getting there, I really am.
Not long after Thomas and I were married I watched with a small smile on my face as Dad led a rather in-depth conversation about how well UK was likely to do that year, including critiques of certain players, where they were likely to run up against problems, and so on. Thomas, ever respectful of my father, listened attentively and made appropriate comments. Dad was pleased with his audience and held forth on the subject for quite some time. When the conversation was over and he had left the room, I leaned close to my husband and whispered, "Are you ever going to tell him that you have no idea what he was talking about?" He never did.
And that brings me to my children. Andrew has never cared one way or the other which local college team is on top. When he was younger, he'd go to his school's basketball games once in a while, but it was more of a social thing than a sporting thing. I'd take Eler Beth to games, too, when she was still in public school. And she became a partner to me in my ritual of taking an interest in college basketball during tournament time. I taught her well, and she is continuing the UK fan tradition. My father would be proud.
No one in the family likes professional basketball. I do not like to watch them play. There is too much grand-standing. There is no heart, in my opinion. I am not emotionally invested. I know names of teams and names of famous athletes and which teams they play for because it's hard to escape that knowledge, but I don't follow them. And neither does Eler Beth.
But today she went to work wearing a Bulls stadium jacket.
She works early-morning, part-time hours at FedEx, and in the winter that can get a bit chilly if you're a package handler. The past few nights our lows have been in the 20s, and she realized that the jacket she'd been wearing to work, despite layering beneath it, wasn't keeping her warm enough. And she didn't want to wear one of her nice coats because she didn't want to take the chance of getting it messed up, which is entirely possible. So Thomas pulled a Chicago Bulls jacket out of his "tote of coats."
We used to take the kids and their friends sledding every year or on some other late winter, very cold outing, and there was always -- ALWAYS -- some kid who had not dressed warmly enough. So Thomas started picking up the odd coat, sweat shirt, hat, scarf, or pair of gloves cheaply at yard sales or thrift stores and stashing them for the stray, under dressed kid who might be going fishing or sledding or skating or whatever with us. He'd get various sizes and keep them in a large tote, and once at a yard sale he bought this really, really nice Bulls coat, that would probably be worth some money to someone. So this morning he pulled out that jacket for her, and it fit perfectly. It's an older Bulls jacket, with, I guess, an older version of their logo on it. We've had it forever. It won't matter if it gets messed up at work because it was just an extra coat anyway. As she walked out the door I said, "Someone's going to notice, and I bet she doesn't even know what the Bulls are."
Here are two conversations from her work morning, during the pre-sort meeting:
Co-worker: "Nice jacket! So you like the Bulls."
Eler Beth: "I don't really know anything about football."
Manager Mark, mouth dropping open, speechless for a full 30 seconds: "Hold on...hold on...wait a minute here. The Chicago Bulls are a basketball team."
Eler Beth shrugs apologetically.
Later, another co-worker: "Wow! Nice Jacket! Where'd you get it?"
Eler Beth: "It was my Dad's." (Why go through the "tote of coats" explanation?)
Co-worker, obviously impressed: "That's a really old coat!"
Eler Beth,not really impressed: "Yeah, my Dad has a lot of old coats."
No, we're not really a sports family.