Before I left the state, city and home I’d known for a lifetime, every adult told me college would be filled with new experiences. One I didn’t quite expect? Sports.
I’ve never quite understood the genuine excitement about sports. I’m a self-proclaimed social sports attendee, supported by my perfect attendance at high school football games and confusion as to who was on offense at my first college one. I did play basketball (in a recreational church league) and softball (as the starting benchwarmer on the player-desperate junior varsity team) in high school, but to be completely honest, I enjoyed chatting with girls off the court more than catching quick passes on the court. My sheer lack of coordination failed to help.
Then came the summer before my senior year. Surrounded by screaming soccer fans for six weeks, I spent several afternoons watching the FIFA World Cup…and I liked it. Although I could never keep up with my soccer star best friend when we played in her backyard in elementary school, I enjoyed the suspense, the blocked goals and the kicks into the corner as well as the comradery. Thankfully, I was able to maintain my interest during the school year as I watched my school’s varsity team make it to the state semifinals.
High school ended, summer included a few casual Braves games and I embarked to a school I was told had a semi-decent sports team in a mediocre conference. The concept of a conference was foreign to me, but I nodded like I knew to what people were referring. People talked about some SEC thing all the time at home, so I thought we might be in the same one. Who knew.
After participating in the first game’s spell-out despite my lack of sports knowledge, I decided I needed to learn. My friends tirelessly explained the game to me, play by play by play. I learned who James Franklin is, what the Big 12 Conference means and how many points a touchdown is worth. And when rumors began swirling of Missouri’s move to the SEC, I followed the story religiously. I impressed my friends at home with my newfound sports knowledge and could even hold up some semblance of a conversation. It was great.
And basketball? Because I knew the rules, I eased nearly seamlessly into the world of NCAA. Haith’s effective coaching heightened my excitement as Mizzou rose in the AP polls to number five and, after today’s game, to number two or three. (Side note: what an intense game.)
So, sports. I used to make fun of my brother’s Sunday routine in front of the TV, but now I understand it and, in a weird way, kind of enjoy it. I’m glad I now have a basic understanding of a world in which I can be interested for the rest of my adult life, and let me just say, I am super psyched for next football season’s home opener against Georgia. MIZ!