Widowhood: Free to be a sports fan again

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The Halloween pumpkin my son carved this year was frequently photographed by trick-or-treaters' parents.

The Halloween pumpkin my son carved this year was frequently photographed by trick-or-treaters’ parents.

During the 21 years I was married to my late husband, our lives revolved around our newspaper, gardening and maintaining a home, 20 acres and assorted outbuildings, plus a number of domestic animals. Seldom was there any room left over for sports.

But in a previous marital incarnation, sports was a family pastime. If it was Sunday, males and females alike gathered around the console television in the large living room of some family member. If food preparation was occurring in a kitchen, there was always a reassuring murmur of a familiar sportscaster as background music. If we were on the road or on vacation, the radio was always tuned to a baseball game, professional football or baseball match or college ball.

I grew up in the pre-Title IX era when girls were cheerleaders or pep club members and our main form of physical exertion took place in a school gym, while wearing ugly one-piece gym suits with our names stenciled on the pocket; this followed always by a requisite shower.

Only when I got married the first time did I put my foot in the sports waters, trying my hand at golf and a few coed softball leagues. I was a miserable failure, except for making the winning catch to end the season in a women’s softball game. But I learned to be a great spectator.

And now, thanks to the Kansas City Royals, and a newly echoing house, I’ve rediscovered my lost sports affinity.

Those who study the stages of grief always note that having a television or radio on at night helps fool us into thinking there’s someone else in the house. It can be a comforting noise, especially if you’re tuned in to an athletic competition. Golf is a sure cure for insomnia (why do those announcers talk in a whisper, anyway?) NFL football is a great background for fixing an autumn Sunday meal, even if it’s only a meal for one. I’ve learned that baseball playoffs and a successful World Series can chase the blues away magically. So thank you, sports teams, for giving me a new temporary distraction and focus.

These days I read sports articles to the end, especially since they’re the dominant front page story. All the while I marvel at a segment of journalism that gets to break the rules of headline writing and sentence structure. This is journalism that is entertaining yet informative. Until I read Sam Mellinger’s front page story this morning, I had no clue that eight of the Kansas City Royals’ playoff wins were achieved in the sixth inning or later after coming from behind, sometimes by two or more runs. In fact, our home team is the “greatest rally team in more than 100 years of playoff baseball.”

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So, I join thousands, perhaps millions, of newly rabid fans in World Series excitement and pride. I can now surprise my son by occasionally talking baseball. And I am so glad our colors are royal blue, as that is one of my Color Me Beautiful complementary shades. I was waiting to buy my t-shirt until it could say “World Series Champs.”

My only challenge in watching last night’s game was calming down my dogs. Every time I yelled, they were ready to go into action and kick some butt. However, I believe the Mets were on the receiving end of some of that by some wonderful royal blue dogs.

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