Ash Tales: A different gameday experience

I’ve never been able to understand those ‘hardcore’ sports fans you read about that say they’ve skipped weddings or other events just to watch their teams play.  Especially when you factor in things like DVR it just seems ridiculous to me that you’d give up witnessing major events in your life just to watch your team.

Look down at your hand, the length of your index finger is probably further than Auburn came from potentially losing last week’s game against ULM.  Angelo Blackson’s fingertips were enough to force ULM’s overtime efforts wide left and put Auburn in position for Cody Parkey to win the game.  I could have been watching it at home, but instead I saw it huddled around a small TV in the back of a roller-rink in Huntsville following the celebration of a birthday party for my friends’ daughter.

The ‘gameday experience’ is much different when you’re not at the stadium or in front of the TV watching the whole game, but that doesn’t make it worse.  As I was driving up to Huntsville I had the pregame on from about 9am through the first quarter of the game.  Having now done that I can safely say that two hours is a lot of time to fill especially about one game and two teams when you’re trying to dodge the elephant in the room about the struggles your team is undergoing.   The guys did a great job, but I think I heard the same topics exhausted several times over.  Stuck in the car I was able to listen to the game through the end of the first quarter.  As I headed into the roller rink and I pulled out some headphones and pulled the game up on streaming radio to listen to inside.  I did this for about 5 minutes before looking around and realizing I was ‘that guy’.  I saw that I couldn’t be “there” and focus on the game at the same time,  I was so focused about listening to the game that I was barely participating in my kids’ first time at a skating rink or celebrate the birthday girl’s big day.  So away the headphones went, and I shrugged and just resigned myself to finding out how we did when it was all over.

Somewhere along the way somebody else decided they wanted to keep up with the game and the small tv hanging on the wall in the back of the place was flipped on and over to the game.  I didn’t even notice it till almost halftime when I looked over to see that our 7-7 game was now a 14-14 game and a few plays later watched the Frazier Hail Mary to give us the lead going into the locker room.  I went back to ignoring the TV, eating some pizza and cake, and trying to give a little girl the best birthday party we can as a collective unit.  I think we did give her a great party and right up until the party was wrapping up I didn’t even pay much attention to the game.  Still as we were all saying our goodbyes I found myself huddled around the TV with the other sports guys watching Auburn head into OT and then pull out the win.

Would it have been different to miss some of those big plays if there wasn’t a TV and then find out the score when I got back out to my car?  Sure it would have.  On the other hand my two daughters laced up roller skates for the first time and I was able to walk them both around the rink and experience that fun with them.  We had a really great time and that’s something I would have missed if I’d either been glued to that TV, sitting in a corner straining to hear the game on headphones, or worse yet not there at all.  That was a moment for my kids growing up that was only going to happen that one time, and as hard as it is for us to admit as sports fans, there is always going to be another moment with your favorite team identical to the one you’re watching right then.

Sure if it was a National Championship or a game against your biggest rival you might struggle to make that call, but you only get one chance to go around in this life and do you really want to be lying on your deathbed saying that you watched more big moments in your team’s life than in the lives of those around you?

The ‘gameday experience’ is what YOU make it.  For me this last weekend was probably more enjoyable for me because of what I was able to do by not watching the whole game.  So stop and smell the roses once in a while, I promise your team will still be there for you when you get back.

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