Thursday, November 03, 2005

It's a Guy Thing pt.2 - Watch as my Watching Waxes and Wanes

Well, I was planning on expanding on my experiences of Hanging Out With The Guys, but after Cap'n Disaster's oh so detailed summary of male bonding, I'm not sure I have anything to add; I mean butt-slapping and chest-bumping; what else is there?

I suppose I could give it a try anyway . . .

Back in pt.1 of my Secret Origin series I talked about my sports-avoidance issues, and mentioned how my interest in sports was directly related to who I was hanging out with at the time. In junior high and high school it was my role in the band that started my interest in football and basketball, but it was more of a school spirit sort of thing. Once I went off to OSU, the school spirit thing got kicked up a notch or two; the atmosphere in Stillwater on game day was crazy, and it was impossible for me not to get swept up in it. As I started hanging out more with Wrath and G'ovich, I began to get sucked into the world of the NFL; I was not yet a full-fledged convert, but I soon knew more about the Detroit Lions (Wrath's team) and San Diego Chargers (G'ovich's team) than I had ever thought I would; not that I knew all that much, mind you, but any sort of pro sports knowledge at that point was an aberration. Once we all started rooming together, my immersion in pro sports increased by another degree, as the TV was often commandeered for one game or another. My interest would wane the year I was rooming with The Old Man, but picked up again during The Year of the Flunky. And then came Fantasy Football.

Now, I wasn't too excited about the prospect of playing Fantasy Football with The Parkerites; my enjoyment of sports was all a matter of being caught up in the moment; when watching a game while Hanging Out With The Guys it was incredibly easy for me to lose myself in the spectacle of the competition; once it's all over, however, I have no head for figures and strategies and stats; I'm just not wired that way. But, while I wasn't exactly all gung-ho about the Poker Football League, I wasn't about to turn down the invite to be included in it, thinking that if I did turn down this invite, others would not be soon forthcoming; if only I had kept that in mind later on . . . So, I went ahead and joined the PFL; I have to admit that having a vested interest in how the players are performing does add something to the game-watching experience, and I actually had some dumb luck at the beginning of that first season which was nice, but I soon began to feel that I was nowhere near as serious about the game as everyone else was.

Case in point: the way the draft was set up was, we were given a random order; the first person would go online and make their first pick; this would send an email to the next person telling them it was time to make their next pick, and so on. Well, the second year I played, I was going to be in Miamuh without Internet access during the draft time, so I asked The Mag to go ahead and handle my draft; I had already kind of ranked the players before I left, and wasn't going to be that broken hearted if I didn't get all of them or not. Well, there was some miscommunication between The Mag and myself, and she didn't wind up making the draft pick nearly fast enough for everyone else's taste; I got not one, but two calls that weekend from Parkerites offering to take over the draft for her. Yes, that's right; they tracked down my parents’ number to call me because the draft was moving too slowly for their tastes. Now, that in and of itself was kind of funny; the fact that one of the calls was from the football-obsessed Wrath the Berzerkr made me smile; the fact that the other call was from Flunky, whom I hadn't heard a peep from for several months, was both funny and irritating at the same time.

But despite the humor of it all, that situation made me start to feel really weird about continuing in the PFL; I guess I felt like my half-assed participation was an annoyance to the others who were so into it, or that I was sort of the laughingstock of the group; you know, my usual paranoia of the time. So, once they started doing an entry fee so they could award prizes, I bowed out; didn't feel like paying money for something I wasn't getting that much out of, and was pretty sure that my sort-of weird feeling would only grow to a really-weird feeling now that cash was involved. Which, in hindsight, was a big mistake; leaving the PFL pretty much marks the end of any and all communication between myself and G'ovich, Special K, GMC, Flunky, etc. for the next several years; the Great Parkerite Exodus had claimed all but me by that point, and without that constant presence in the PFL, Cap'n Cellophane struck again, and I was quickly no longer a blip on any of their radars.

Without the PFL, and having no Guys To Hang Out With, I pretty much stopped paying attention to sports for the next few years; my lack of outward sports enthusiasm would lead several of The Singles to be surprised by how vocal I was during my first Super Bowl party with them; once again, get me in front of an exciting game, and I’m generally all in. I would have a brief period of much NBA watching thanks to Hyperlad's fanatical love of the Dallas Mavericks, and Bizarro-Zinger's Wrath-the-Berzerkr-like football obsession meant I got invited to a few watch parties at his place as well, but once both of them were out of the picture, so was my sports watching drive, pretty much up until I started getting invited to The Eskimo's house for Sunday and Monday games; once those gatherings were a thing of the past, so was my viewage.

So, does it make me any less of a Guy that I don't watch every football and basketball game possible unless I'm watching it with other Guys? Yeah, probably; less of a Guy-with-a-capital-G, anyway. I will occasionally watch a game if I happen to be flipping through the channels and find it on, but I'm just not the type to seek them out. So many other things to read, or watch, or write, that it often won't even dawn on me that there was a game on until someone mentions it the next day.

And there you have it; up until I get a regular invite for some sports-related Hanging Out With The Guys time, don’t expect me to be up on the latest scores, or who's playing for what team; it just ain’t gonna happen. In the next installment I’ll talk a little about the flip side of the sports coin: actually participating.