I am an only child and I am pretty sure my father would have rather had me born a boy, but I wasn’t. Like most little girls, I played with my share of Barbie dolls and did some girly things, but that wasn’t all of my life. I grew up with a father who loved sports. It didn’t matter what sport was on television he was there watching it along with me, his only daughter. I spent many of my formative years listening to him talk about football, baseball, or whatever was on television at the time. I grew up an Ohio State Buckeyes fan. I remember hearing about the Big Red Machine and yes, I cheered for the Cincinnati Bengals. (Please note, my family moved to the state of Texas from Ohio when I was five–that was 35 years ago). He wasn’t just about watching the game, it was about knowing the game. He would talk to me about every nuance of every sporting event. At first I didn’t get, but slowly I began to develop my own love for sports.
Sports for me was a way to escape and find my niche. It was a way for me to feel comfortable with others, well more importantly, men. I know it is weird, but once I found sports I find some sort of confidence and self worth about myself. I could tell you more about football than I think some of my friends every wanted to know. There were times I felt like I was a freak of nature, but I didn’t care, I loved sports. There isn’t a memory of my father that doesn’t involve some kind of sporting activity. I would spend weekends playing golf with him. He taught me how to play pool, hit a golf ball, and to bowl. I had the fortunate opportunity to live next door to three boys and well to be honest, I didn’t mind. I learned how to throw a football. In fact I had a better spiral than most boys in the neighborhood. I learned how to throw a baseball, pitch a softball, slide, and tackle. I also learned about fixing cars. It was also at this time the seeds of my love for racing began. I spent many Saturday nights at the local dirt track with my father and mother watching late models and modified races. My father was part of the pit crew for a friend of his who drove a modified. I loved it! I still acted like a girl. I had posters on the wall of Ralph Macchio and the guys from Dukes of Hazzard on my bedroom walls. But I also had picture of Roger Clemons and a poster of Joe Montana.
I cheered for my father’s teams when I was young, but as I got older I developed my own love of sport teams. I am still a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes and I still root for the Reds, but like with anything in life, children develop their own passions different from their parents. I love the Dallas Cowboys. I cheer for the Rangers and Mavericks. And I know, it seems weird to my hubby, I cheer from the Astros. He has tried to understand my love for Joe Montana, but I can tell him, sometimes there are things in life you just can’t explain.
Sports has always been a part of my life. I married someone who has the same passion for sports I do. I have a little bit more of an obsession with NASCAR than he does and he has that same obsession with football. But he gets me. He doesn’t see me as some freak of nature. That’s what I used to think about myself. I used to believe men were intimidated by my knowledge of sports, but as I got older it didn’t matter as much. At first men my think I don’t know what I am talking about, but the longer they sat with me, the more it didn’t matter that I was a female. I knew what I was talking about and they talked with me. They didn’t see me as a female, but a fellow sports fan. I also have to thank sports for helping me repair my relationship with my father. I was angry with my father when my parents divorced. Even during this difficult time, when I thought I couldn’t talk to my father, I was able to discuss sports. It was the one constant throughout our lives that we are able to share.
To quote my favorite coffee cup (and I am paraphrasing it)…I am female, I love sports, and yes I watch ESPN.