Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sports, Sports, Sports!


After 16 years of living in New England, a funny thing has happened; I have become somewhat of a sports fan – well, a fan of the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox, to be specific. This shouldn’t be so surprising considering I grew up with 2 older brothers who, along with my Dad, lived and breathed rugby and cricket, and pretty much any other sport that was on TV or that they could have a go at.

Any of you Brits out there remember Grandstand? In our house on a Saturday afternoon the TV was stuck on Grandstand all afternoon showcasing one sporting event after another. Grandstand was the longest running sports program in history airing from 1958 to 2007 and dominated BBC each Saturday afternoon. And this was in the days before there were whole channels devoted to sports and also before we had multiple TVs with lots of channels to which I could have escaped to watch! Somehow the men of the house never tired of any of these events, be it rugby, cricket, football (the English kind) or even horse racing! I also spent hours watching my brothers play rugby and cricket. So I think at some point I just tired of the whole sports scene.

I would enjoy watching Wimbledon and the Olympics that were also shown in all their glory on Grandstand. One thing is for sure, there were no American sports shown! My dad once brought home a baseball bat from a work trip to America and my brothers were not sure how to play. We probably used it to play rounders, the closest English equivalent to baseball.

Although I know many ex-pats in the US who still fervently follow English soccer, and my son is an avid player, my husband and I were never that into it.

Red Sox Ticket from July 15th, 1996
But there’s something about living in New England; it’s just hard not to get caught up in the atmosphere. We went to our first Red Sox game back in 1996, the year we moved here.  Some good friends were visiting from England and we thought it would be fun. Tickets were quite easy to come by in those days. I still have the ticket with face value $14; you can barely get a beer and a hot dog for that price at Fenway these days! The Sox were playing the Yankees – we had no idea of the significance of that! In fact, we had no idea about pretty much anything that happened during that game. It was beautiful, summer night, being at Fenway was fabulous but the game was a mystery. When everyone stood up in the 7th inning we thought the game was over. We did ask a nice lady near us when it would be over and she nicely said, “Honey, it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings!” So that pretty much cleared things up! I’m sure an American watching their first cricket game would be just as mystified.

We look back to the first February we lived here. It was another snowy Sunday afternoon so we went to Blockbuster (yes, that long ago) to rent a movie. We were surprised that all the new releases were available. Turns out it was Super Bowl Sunday!

But I think the change happened for me in 2004. My son had started playing Little League so I was trying to understand the rules – that would take a while though. And the Red Sox made their historic bid for their first World Series since 1918. We knew adults who had been waiting their whole lives for this. The atmosphere in the Boston area was electric; lots of tired eyes from staying up late to watch the games and then the euphoria when they finally won. How could you not get excited? Just walking through the grocery store felt like being part of a ticker tape parade!

Since then we have followed the ups and downs of the Red Sox and also become hooked on the antics of the Patriots, celebrating 3 Super Bowl wins in 4 years with friends.

So this weekend as the Patriots battle the Giants, we will be embracing the American side of our nationality and hoping for another New England win. Go Pats!

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