I don’t like sports. I have zero athletic ability and no understanding or will to watch a sporting event of any type. Football season is the first part of the year–March Madness is an equally lonely time– when I lose all friends to high school and college sporting events- both live and televised.
I just wasn’t raised that way. There are no athletes in my family. My cousin used to run really fast, but that was only because Jesus told her to. I don’t remember male family members glued to the t.v. for hours on end to root on a team–Gpa watches baseball sometimes only if the Reds are involved—, no tailgating, no Super Bowl parties, and no family outings to games. This makes me a freak within the social dynamic of my friends as well as the entire population of Central Ohio. I’m convinced that it is one among the myriad of reasons that I can’t date successfully. Unlike some people, I’m not willing to schedule life events around the next home game. I can identify a Buckeye and I know that its fruit is poisonous, but that is where knowledge, interest, and understanding of all things Buckeye end.
So it is truly a sense of teacherly guilt and obligation that pushes me to attend at least one high school football game each year. Allegedly the students really like to see teachers there supporting them and professionally, the fact that I am at school at all hours –including the summer–working to make my classroom and publication function is not enough to show “professional involvement” in my educational environment; I also need to attend events even though I’d really just like to go to bed. I was hit hard by the guilt and obligation this Friday. Last year, I did not attend the local big rivalry game and it became one of the most motivational events of the year for the student body. This year, my school hosted the game so that made it even easier to attend and I felt marginally bad that I had missed out on last year’s enthusiasm.
Had I not ignored the signs— much like Oedipus Rex, we just finished reading that in my senior course, love it!– and gone with my natural instincts of Chinese food and bad t.v. on a Friday night, I probably could have saved the student body, the players, and their coaches a lot of heartbreak.
I am the plague on our team. My actions (fate or freewill?) brought the suffering upon us. Only if I pledge to stay away from sporting events, will the curse be lifted.
The omens began at the Friday afternoon pep rally.
As 1500 students filed into the stadium for peppiness and the band played “Seven Nation Army”, I was busy pointing out the 5 turkey vultures circling overhead. I heard someone nearby say, “I hope there isn’t something dead out there.” The Classical Lit teacher and I discussed the possible portent of this sign of carrion birds. He said the vultures were the servants of Ares, god of war and slaughter. This seemed apt symbolically for a football game. And as it turned out, we were slaughtered.
The next omen was a significant financial loss. I paid $20 for an Arby’s combo meal. The horror.
Driving home at 4:00, all I could think about was how hungry and tired I was; and that as soon as I got home, I would just have to turn around and drive back to school if I wanted any hope of parking within walking distance of the stadium. I gave in to my base urges and desire for curly fries, heading for the Arby’s drive-thru. It was not until after I got home, ate and then started to rearrange my purse for the night, that I realized I should have more cash. I went through my wallet, went through the empty Arby’s bag and rooted around in the front seat of the car looking for the $14 in change that I should have gotten back. In the confusion of me pointing out that I ordered Diet Pepsi not Mountain Dew and the overwhelming politeness between myself and the window attendant, no one gave anyone back any change. I thought that the gods were punishing me for my poor fat-girl food choices, but the ramifications were more widespread that night.
The final omen was my realization (blindness versus sight, totally Oedipus) that in 16 years of teaching, I have never been to a sporting event beginning to end. I usually arrive late or leave at half time hoping that some other like-minded person will want beer and fried food. My first school did not even have football because no one gave a shit about it; they were into basketball, not that it is any better.
My eyes were opened; I was the problem. My guilt and shame had driven me to show up early and stay late at this night of all important nights. I told an administrator my fear that I was the cause of our stunning loss. Standing defeated on the sideline, he just shook his head sadly and said, “It was nice of you to show up, but don’t fucking do it ever again.”