I have a love-hate relationship with sports. There's nothing in the middle.
There are many times that I hate sports. For example, I hate sports when my husband spends the afternoon sitting on the couch watching football games instead of talking to me. I should join him, you say? But I don't understand the rules of football, and it holds no interest for me. Besides, I have plenty of work to do around the house.
I hate sports when my son is injured on the playing field. Nothing, to me, is worth the pain I see players go through for the sake of the game. There are twisted ankles, bruises from being kicked with soccer cleats, and occasionally more serious injuries that involve stitches. There are students who wake up exhausted because they came home late the night before from an away game at a faraway school. There are students who wake up with aching bones from giving the game their all the night before.
I hate sports when my own son is injured, and lies down on the field, and I don't know whether he's OK or not. I get scared, but I have to act "cool" and I'm not allowed to run down and make sure he's all right.
I hate sports when the entire school gathers for a pep rally to applaud the athletes, while the all-A students get little more than their name in tiny print on the honor roll list. I hate sports when students who are admitted to top colleges for academic reasons get nothing but a mention in the "graduation tab," while students who sign on to academically mediocre colleges to play sports get a big picture, along with the coach and their parents, in the newspaper. I hate sports when athletes who get to the state level in their sport get an exciting "send-off" from the entire school, but students who achieve National Merit recognition for their academic prowess get no applause at all.
But there are times I love sports.
I love sports when I see the joy on my son's face after he comes home, wet and muddy but thoroughly happy, after playing an exciting soccer game. I love the way he makes friends with the other players, and he feels part of the team. I love the way he has learned to go beyond pain and try his hardest. I love the feeling that he knows he has to come through because the team is counting on him. I love the quick thinking involved in each game, the intuitive, almost magical anticipation of where the ball is going to be.
I love the joy on my students' faces when they tell me their team won the night before, or that they almost scored a goal. I even love their determination when they report that they didn't do so well, but they vow to do better next time. I love how sports keep the body physically fit.
I love the effort that goes into sports, the camaraderie, the fun. I love being a parent and watching how the team members cooperate and run and try their hardest. I love being part of the people who cheer the boys and girls on, and who praise their effort, win or lose.
I love the fact that my husband has found something he enjoys watching, even if I can't share it. And sometimes, I love the fact that his love of football gives me some time to myself.