I’ve been going around town soaking in the sports scene for the past month.
And after 14 years of being happily tethered to either one of my two offspring and whatever was happening in their sporting lives, it’s been a very different experience. I was afraid that not having one of my kids out on the field would severely test my already weak attention span.
I am relieved that this has not been the case.
I still know a bunch of the kids – sons and daughters of really good friends, younger brothers and sisters of my kid’s contemporaries. I’ve been to their youth football games, their college football games, their cheerleading events, their dance team performances, their high school soccer and field hockey and volleyball matches.
I even took a walk through Fairfield Hills and watched some fall baseball. Eventually I noticed a kid on the local team, a Newtown High School sophomore now, who was in the youth lacrosse program that I helped run back when he was in elementary school. Even then, I could tell that he was going to be a very good lacrosse player. I can’t pick stocks and I can’t shoot threes and I can’t keep my mouth shut in social situations, but I can definitely tell which kids will be good lacrosse players.
So I watched this one-time lax prodigy dominate that baseball game, and all I could think of was how much I wished he still played the game I love so much instead of the game he loves.
And then I felt embarrassed to have thought that about this great kid, so I just drove home. And less than halfway there, I realized I was happy for him that he was so good at the sport he chose to play.
So I figured out this past month that it’s easy to watch these games, even though there’s not a Thompson involved. I will always pull for a Newtown team or the team that has more of the kids I know. And interestingly, I am able to root for your (our) team with a calm, cool demeanor and a “just compete” perspective, and that is truly surprising.
Because that’s just never been me.
Those who know me will attest to the fact that I am very high energy and obnoxiously opinionated when it comes to the stuff I feel strongly about. Conversely, I am blandly unenthusiastic about topics that just don't get me going, like amateur podiatry, constructing an elaborate Koi pond in my back yard, or this whole Amanda Knox thing.
I only have the energy to get truly juiced about what feels important to me, and while that’s probably self-centered, “it is”, as they say, “what it is”.
So going forward, when you see me at your kids’ games and say, “What the heck is he doing here?", remember that I really miss my kids, and I also really like yours. And it makes me happy to watch kids I like having as much fun as mine had out there on those Newtown fields.
And I like being happy.
So I’m going to keep on going to games, and while I won’t yell at the refs anymore (I was always right) or loudly predict gloom and doom for every game (I was usually wrong), you’ll still hear me.
I’ll be the guy who's just cheering. And finally, for all the right reasons.