Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Sports Blog

My beau is not the typical guy. He is an English teacher, a poet, and not much of a "the game is on" type of man. But, there are certain events that he will watch: our local (horrible) football team, the Olympics (do they count?) and the NBA playoffs. He was a "sports guy" in high school, running track, cross country and playing lots of basket ball, so he knows sports and when we watch "the game" together I am glad because I can finally ask him all those questions that I didn't know the answer to. Like....why do those two guys run before the play starts in football. And...why are the NBA guys so jumpy near the basket? Just stay under the basket and they'll be sure to stop anyone from trying to get one.

From Jefe', I learned that all of those things have meaning. I understood the meaning of the "in the paint" rule for basketball, but I must admit, I still don't understand the "in motion" thing from football. Why do games have such arbitrary and seemingly incomprehensible rules. The names that go along with sports are also a bit impenetrable--why is it called a "down"? Why is a zero "love"? And for God's sake, please explain a "touchback" to me again. And...what is a "googly"? I'd better explain how I heard of the last one.

I teach creative writing and I have a cache of un-captioned and un-texted photographs that I've culled from my years of research. Well, I call it "research", but really it's just browsing magazines.

I love reading magazines. Every time I go to our local purveyor of fine groceries, I have a really hard time not buying all the magazines on the rack. Yes, even Readers Digest and Healthy Cooking. Nothing makes me happier than an afternoon spent perusing the pages of Real Simple or Cosmopolitan. I can wile away the hours just looking at beautifully designed pages and imagining myself in those layouts: cooking that meal, wearing that dress, designing that room, refinishing that boat. No, I don't really read the articles--they add no meaning to my life--but they could! And that's why I buy them. Every month, magazines present a new opportunity to change my life--in glossy color images.

Back to the topic at hand, so I buy magazines not only to escape into fantasy, but also to find inspiring photos for my students to write from. I paste cool photos on construction paper and give them some sort writing assignment or another. One of my old National Geographics had an article on the anglophile's favorite sport, Cricket. Now, let it be known that I teach in a little village in upstate New York: a place where Cricket would no sooner be played than professional croquet. in order to be a real man here, you have to play football, basketball or MAYBE soccer. So, when I saw the photos of cricket players and a cricket field, ahem, pitch, I thought, "AHA! Here's something to inspire some poetry. Let's see what strange literary brew they can make out of this."

Let me also add, that I specifically used those cricket pictures to appeal to my male students. While I spend lots of time buying Lady Magazines and Mom Magazines and even dorky Dad Magazines (home renovations, boating, technogeeks), I have never bought Sports Illustrated, so have no sports pictures in my files--and my cricket photos were a pathetic attempt to "branch out". Well, lo and behold, one of my finest athletes picked the photo of the cricket pitch and wrote a poem that was pithy, serviceable, and one of the few that actually had a line in it which has since been cemented in my brain. I must admit, I don't know what a "googly" means, and when I asked my beau for yet another sports explanation, and he came up empty-handed--but, we both agreed it didn't matter and that the best line yet to come out of that assignment was:

"Now, that was a wicked googly!"

Pure genius! Even if I don't know what it means!


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