Essays,  Photo stories

Keeping my own score

“Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.” Brené BrownDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Silver Beach merry go ’round, St. Joseph / Cindy La Ferle

Today’s a big day for college football in my part of the state. Michigan State University (my alma mater) and the University of Michigan (my husband’s alma mater) are gearing up for their big showdown this evening. Everyone I know will be watching.  

We are, after all, a nation of spectators — and proud of it. A lot more of us watch sports, or pay to watch sports, than actually play a sport ourselves. Of course, when big-league network advertisers team up with any professional sport, there’s big money to be made — always a win-win. And, yes, I appreciate all the motivational metaphors about fostering teamwork, cheering for the players who represent our hometown or school, staying fit for life’s challenges, and keeping our eyes on a common goal. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if all of that actually unfolded on the playing field of real life … right now? (On the topic of great sports metaphors: Joe Jackson’s iconic tune, “Go For It,” says it all for me. It inspired me to get off my butt, quit my office job, and become a professional writer.)

It’s impossible to live in this culture without getting swept up in sports talk. When people don’t know what else to discuss, they often lead with a conversation on baseball, hockey, football, or basketball scores; complaints about a lousy or stellar player; a mini-debate over whether or not a coach should be fired; or how they got tickets to The Next Big Game. Sports talk is a great unifier.

Which makes it hard, sometimes, for people like me.

I learned early on that it was sacreligious to admit aloud that I’m not very interested in sports. Whenever I did, the “friends” and family members who were devoted sports fans openly made fun of me, or inferred that there was something dreadfully wrong with me. I always thought that was a little unfair or unsportsmanlike — especially since I’ve never made fun of anyone who wasn’t interested creative writing, photography, or any of the other arts and crafts that occupy most of my time. 

But hey, I know most of you love sports, and I’m cool with that now. And I applaud your athletic enthusiasm. Go for it.   

Will I be watching the game tonight? Probably. Everyone will be talking about it tomorrow, so I’ll pull up a comfy chair and sit and watch as long as I can stay awake. Go State!! ~CL

Throughout my career, I've worked as a book production editor, travel magazine editor, features writer, and weekly newspaper columnist. My award-winning lifestyles features and essays have appeared in many national magazines and anthologies, including Newsweek, Reader's Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Writer's Digest, Victoria, Better Homes & Gardens, Bella Grace, and more. My weekly Sunday "Life Lines" column ran for 14 years in The Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, MI) and won a First Place (Local Columns) award from the Michigan Press Association. My essay collection, Writing Home, includes 93 previously published columns and essays focusing on parenthood and family life.

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