For years I've been a tennis fan. And the World Cup makes a soccer fan out of most of the world. But football is a recent addition to my resume. Once that was over, I half-expected to just go back to life as normal until next fall. But I kept watching ESPN, and so even if I didn't watch actual games, I kept up with other sports results. Tiger's return to golf, Butler's near-total upset of the world of college basketball, I watched it all, getting sucked deeper and deeper into the world of fandom.
And now, I watch basketball. Seriously, this is getting ridiculous. As I write this, the Celtics are up ten points in the fifth game of the series, and I'm totally into it, I know the players and the history. This is ridiculous. A few months ago I couldn't give a flying hoot. I have a bracket for the World Cup predicting the winners and losers. It's official: amongst other things, I am now also a nerd about sports.
My parents don't understand it. My dad is absolutely uninterested, and my mother is only vaguely aware of sports (unless it's cricket!), though she'll watch with me. It's clearly not genetic.
So what is it?
I think it's pretty simple. Apart from the increased exposure from days working at home with the TV lingering on ESPN, I'm a sucker for a story. Sports, in the end, after all the statistics and muscle and rules, is a narrative-producing machine. The battles, the comebacks, the heartbreak: I take it all in like the most finely-crafted novel.
It's a golden time of year for the sports nerd within me. The French Open has just wrapped up (Nadal back on top!), and Wimbledon is just within reach. The NBA Finals series will be done soon, and the World Cup is just getting going. I'm not going to hole up inside with the television rooting for my favorites the entire summer, but I'll at least keep my iPhone with me by the pool if there's a match on.