Tag Archives: Sports

A Ballgame-aholic Confesses All

My name is Rachael, and I’m a ballgame-aholic.

Football, baseball and basketball rivet me to the small screen.

But Mom raised me with a Midwestern work ethic, scoffing at grown men wearing silly clothes who played with balls and sticks. When she hid the newspaper’s sport section and dispatched Dad’s recliner to the roof, we kids got the message.

My husband’s family, though equally industrious, considered viewing ballgames valid — and Indiana University basketball sacred.

Consequently, Steve requires fewer rationalizations than I, but he sometimes borrows from my vast collection.

Our favorite: we accuse each other of working too hard, then prescribe couch-potato bliss as a mutual health measure. “A little R & R will keep our blood pressures down.”

If this fails to stem coulda-shouldas, we add respectability with semi-productive activities that don’t detract from the loafing so essential to sports viewing.

We count our money.

Okay, that sufficed for three seconds. What next?

  • I clip coupons, which borders on constructive. However, I’ll lose the coupons in my black-hole handbag, only to have them magically reappear in an underwear drawer — one day  after they expire.sockscrazy
  • We fold Hubby’s brown and black socks. He does this on autopilot, and I rarely bother to separate the two, so we can focus on the game.
  • My husband polishes shoes. If the score is tied in final quarter, the difference between black and brown also escapes him. But my flip-flops look really shiny.
  • Dead-heading plants qualifies as a mildly useful ballgame pastime unless I translate the teams’ picking off passes to picking off flowers. I enjoy getting carried away, but my bald plants do not.
  • Manicures, pedicures and ear-hair-trimming sessions also work — with a similar warning.
  • Steve and I sort through cassette tapes and vinyl albums. We cannot part with any, resulting in pleasant diligence without actually accomplishing anything.
  • We made jelly — once. With all the washing, sieving, and stirring, this pastime lurks perilously close to true fruit-fulness. But if we, mesmerized by attempts to steal home plate, do not add enough pectin or sugar, we risk producing 47 jars of thin, pucker-y grape ice cream sauce.

steverachaelsportsOur best rationalization? Steve and I snuggle, cheering our teams on, snarling at referees, consoling and/or celebrating with hugs, smooches and buttery popcorn.

After 41-plus years of viewing ballgames together, we know how to do quality time. And it’s the best ballgame-watching rationalization ever.

Okay, what’s your favorite excuse?






March Magic

BasketballGoalSnowWinter-weary people wonder why God did not ban March a long time ago. March lasts for years in the Midwest.

Still, we survive, even thrive. Why?

Two words: tourney time.

Outsiders term our annual basketball obsession “March Madness.” We call it “March Magic.”

More than five decades ago, I experienced my first taste of it in a rural elementary gymnasium packed to the rafters. The fans amazed me more than the skinny eighth-grade team. Upstanding grown-ups shrieked from wooden bleachers like gangs of outraged crows. Teachers popped up and down, much more fun at games than in the classroom! At half-time, I exchanged my nickel for wondrous Beech-Nut Fruit Stripe gum. I chewed all five flavors at once.

Nothing, however, compared with the games’ true marvel: the referees. A bleat of their whistles, and players and fans stopped in their tracks. Even our school principal, whom I believed was a first cousin of God, stood at attention.

One referee power outshone them all: with upraised fingers, these omnipotent beings could change the scoreboard.

Though I tried to “score” points for my team, the Taylorsville Bears, holding up two fingers, I did not possess the magic.

Gradually, my awe of the game outgrew my wonder at the referees. Their movements paled compared to the raw poetry of farm kids running, guarding, shooting a ball into a basket with awkward grace.

One year, when county tourney time arrived, the Taylorsville Bears were the team to beat.

In the early afternoon, Taylorsville defeated Wayne. Our evil arch-rivals, Rock Creek, pounded on Petersville. Anyone who has experienced small-town basketball can write the script that evening: the hats-off, hands-over-hearts moment of thin civility during the national anthem. The Coliseum roar of a crowd segregated by school colors. The wild choreography of young bodies driving, diving, shooting the basketball. The blast of songs by a Bobble-headed band. The final screams of winners smothered by popcorn confetti as fans stormed the court.

Of course, we won. Do you think I’d write this if Rock Creek had beat us?

March Magic persists, yet consolidation and categorization have changed sports scenery.  The sacred barn-like 1920s gymnasium where I watched my first tourney game disappeared years ago. Fruit Stripe gum can be ordered on the Internet — for more than a nickel.

While I still love basketball, I don’t get carried away. When March Magic tugs at me, I wouldn’t think of trying to up my team’s score by raising two fingers.

Now I raise three.

Have you ever lived a “Hoosiers” movie moment?


OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: March Madness

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Oh, my God, during March Madness, I don a helmet. With ear plugs. You made my husband, whose signature is sanity, who keeps brown socks in one drawer and black in another. Yet he succumbs to basketball psychosis. OMG, bring healing. But please, not until April 6. (Go, Hoosiers!)

This Was for My Health?

DCF 1.0

We’ve all heard word trios that drop on our heads like clusters of miniature anvils. You are overdrawn. The IRS called. What’s our deductible?

But the three words on my adult college registration eclipsed them all.

Dress for exercise. Dress for exercise?

“Lifetime Physical Awareness is required for everybody,” my college adviser insisted.

“But I’m already aware,” I whined. “My knees crack and I injured my back reading the newspaper. Why should I throw away perfectly good money to find out what I already know?—my abs of steel are flabs I conceal.

“I refuse to play soccer with 18-year-olds.” I crossed my arms. “Those people think varicose veins are a new rock band.”

I couldn’t change her mind.

At first, I felt encouraged. Our instructor, a Nice Young Man (over-50 translation for Hunk), prayed for our health and well-being. A Christian college has its advantages; I could use divine help, especially since one glance told me I was at least ten years older than any of my co-sufferers.

He prayed, his voice full of understanding and compassion.

Then he proceeded to kill me.

“Okay, let’s hit the weight room!”

I stared at one of the machines.

It smirked back at me. Deep in its shiny metal innards, it knew the truth: to me, heaven presents no mystery, compared to the incomprehensible operation of any and all machines. But I refused to be defeated by a lower species. I grasped the machine’s cold, skeletal limbs and yanked them toward my chest. The machine fought back, but with grim determination, I conquered my opponent.

I had nearly completed a whole set when the instructor interrupted me. Would I please stop wrestling with the equipment rack?

He stuck close to me after that, introducing me one by one to various torture devices:  machines that bent my biceps, pulled my pectorals, decreased my height, reversed my elbow direction. I lay on the floor panting, my tongue hanging out.

“Can you believe it?” I asked my adviser later, after describing my brush with death by machinery. “To top it all off, we spent the last class session talking about managing stress. I’ll tell you about stress. Taking ‘Slow Execution 101.’”

My adviser looked up from her schedule of classes. “You’re mistaken,” she said. “That course is required next semester.”