It’s natural to cheer for the professional teams that play in your area, since those are the teams you read about and see on T.V. all the time…the teams that include players you can sort of pretend to know.
But rather than support teams, I’m inclined to root for comebacks.
I thought it was great when Dwight Gooden, who lost his pitching career with the Mets to drugs and alcohol, came back as a Yankee and threw a no-hitter. A couple of years after that happened, Dwight Gooden told me he’d learned to view every day he was playing baseball as a gift. How could I not root for a guy who felt that way?
It’s easy to root for Tiger Woods, of course. Since he so often wins, what have you got to lose?
But these days, I’m rooting for Michelle Wie. Mismanaged by her father, weirdly determined to leap over the women’s tour to play against men, Wie rode her exceptionally promising career into a teary, injury-riddled flop. But now she’s gone through the LPGA’s qualifying process and she’s apparently trying to mend her relationships with the women she considered beneath her notice when she was fifteen. I root for her to win a professional tournament.
On the college level, I root for obscure baseball teams and struggling gymnastics programs to survive.
Oh, I suppose I could get excited about whether the men’s basketball team at Kentucky will rally under the leadership of multi-millionaire head coach John Calipari. I guess I could get behind one of the football programs that employs dozens of assistant coaches and flies recruits to the campus for visits, spending lots of money to make sure they have a good time, but instead I’m rooting for the collegiate programs that face elimination because they don’t excite the boosters or make money. I’m cheering for the student activities budgets at the state universities to continue funding intramural volleyball and hall hockey, just as I’m cheering for the public school administrators determined to maintain some semblance of a phys. ed. program despite budget cuts, deteriorating buildings and fields, and coaches whose salaries have been frozen or whose jobs have been eliminated.
Because if those efforts don’t succeed, lots of the people who might have found ways to be athletes, or at least to be active, will have nothing to do but watch.
This program aired on July 16, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.