Column: Take one for the team
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012 22:04
Why am I in the sports section right now? I’m the Focus Editor, shouldn’t I be reviewing Selena Gomez or writing about some chicken nugget eating contest? Am I just a stereotypical female, getting lost because I’m bad with directions? Actually, my dad always tells me that if I ever end up jobless and homeless, I can at least make minimum wage by lending my voice to Garmin or TomTom. He thinks I’m a map whisperer. I’ve been called worse.
The reason I begged Matt and Colin McDonough for one-sixth of the DC’s most legendary page is because I have a bone to pick. I don’t know what kind of bone. Probably pheasant, because I’m Hindu and cows are off limits. But this bone consists of me being pissed off at people who think they have the right to tell me that my favorite players suck. I’m not talking about the rational sports experts, who actually give me hard stats and game-time scenarios to prove their point. When people like that try to debate with me, I usually just zone out and sing the guitar part of “Free Bird” to myself. Then I tell them I have better things to do than read 162 box scores and perform statistical analyses for OBPs, IBBs and BFPs in my head.
People who target athletes because of their personal decisions and misdemeanors, and then use that material to try and get me to change my allegiance, those are the people I want to grind an axe on. That previous statement was a typo, don’t report me to “America’s Most Wanted.”
The first athlete I fell head over heels for was Jason Kidd. My dad was a big Knicks fan and he always used to bask in the greatness of Patrick Ewing. Just to spite him, I decided to root for the bottom-dwelling Nets. My timing was perfect. It was 2001 and Kidd had just been shipped in from the Suns. Kenyon Martin was healthy and overflowing with swag while Richard Jefferson was so shiny and bald that he looked like a wax figure on draft night. The chemistry was almost immediate: Kidd lofting perfect passes straight into Martin’s tattooed forearms, Kidd seeking out Kerry Kittles for open drainers, Kidd making Jason Collins look somewhat like the Incredible Hulk.
But Kidd came with a lot of baggage. Soon, I was being jeered at by the boys in my classes for wearing my No. 5 jersey on Meadowland days. “You like battering women. You have a thing for grandpas.” I wanted to karate chop their Lakers’ and Spurs’ bobble heads to pieces.
How was Kidd’s domestic track record or age relevant to me idolizing him as an athlete? The guy played, and still plays, phenomenal basketball. Why couldn’t we just leave it at that?
I didn’t falter. Even after I tried going trick-or-treating at his mansion and his security guard told me that “Mr. Kidd didn’t have time for pink Power Rangers,” I would still go around praising him. I’m sure he had a publicist who was doing the same exact job as me, yet getting paid a steady salary for it. What did I get? No courtside tickets, no free passes to basketball camp, not even an autograph. The only thing I got out of it was the satisfaction of loving a stranger unconditionally, and protecting him from malice of other NBA fans.
As a follower of New York teams I feel like I’m always on defense. I cringe when I see Alex Rodriguez’s purple lips fill up my TV screen. But I’ll never admit that to someone who tries to tell me that Varitek schooled him in that fight in 2004. Every time I read something about Mark Sanchez, I wish he would just quit football and move into a brothel of underage women. But when I have to face a Patriots fan, I always tell him or her that Sanchez will take us to the Super Bowl, someday.
Even the UConn men’s basketball team is far from flawless. It gets so bad that I sometimes curl up in the fetal position under my Kemba Walker poster and cry my retinas out. But the instant I see a Syracuse fan, I send out a string of offensive tweets and prepare some sort of a comeback. “Though we don’t have the brains, we’ve got the heart. Without a brain you’re a vegetable, but without a heart you’re just dead.”
There’s a certain pride in being loyal to your player and your team. When the times are tough and the going gets rough, for god’s sake, don’t be a fair-weather fan. I do have a shred of respect for Red Sox fans who refuse to shut up, even when Manny Ramirez can’t get it up. They’re annoying and I pretty much despise them, yet for some reason, I feel a connection with them. They were doing exactly what I had to do when Andy Pettitte broke my heart and Rex Ryan caused me to gag at the word “foot.” Solidarity is what keeps us going amidst losing streaks and congressional trials, extramarital affairs and taping scandals.
The moral of this rant is: keep the sports talk to sports. Separate the athlete from the celebrity, and more importantly, separate the fan from the celebrity.
Okay, I think the pheasant bone has been picked clean. Thank you, Colin and Matt, for giving me the chance to contaminate your section with my vendetta. This was probably the biggest mistake you ever made in your editorial careers. Tom Brady is ugly. GO JETS.