Anytime I watch a sporting event, (has there been one of those lately ?) there is always this feeling that my dad is watching it with me.
Even though he passed many years ago, the times we watched football, baseball, basketball, track and field, (you name it, we watched it) are indelibly etched in my mind in on my heart.
He had a gentle, yet firm way of sharing his sports philosophies that easily translated into everyday life.
For instance, I remember watching the Dallas Cowboys (have no idea who they were playing) one Sunday after church and 'dinner,' and the announcer made some comment to the effect, "Well, the Cowboys have certainly had their share of breaks today. "
My dad explained to me that most of the time, a team 'makes its own breaks.'
Which led him to also talk about referee calls and their mistakes. This coming from someone who 'called' his share of football, basketball, and umped baseball games. He said that usually those calls 'evened' out and on occasion would make the difference in the outcome. Although, there were probably several times when a 'bad' call could change the momentum of a game. He went on to explain, usually the team who had been 'wronged' would be the team that got fired up and would go on to win the game. And, by the way, Dad was probably one of the most well-respected officials in his neck 'o the woods for being fair and consistent.
On many occasions, he would have a game on the TV, one on the radio in the kitchen, and another on the car radio. Some Many times it was my job to sit in the car and report what had happened while he monitored everything inside. We had a great time doing this.
We did attend many, many sporting events together. This is where I learned NOT to boo. He only had to tell me one time that he better not EVER learn that I had boo-ed an official's call, a player, ANYthing. To this day, I can assure you, I have never-ever boo-ed ANYthing. It even gives me an uneasy feeling to say "boo" if I'm going to startle someone.
Heaven forbid that I said a particular team 'sucked.'
It even bothers me that tennis fans will cheer an unforced error, especially a double fault. My tennis coach, Mr. Walter Leonard, enforced that unwritten rule to the full extent of the law.
Most of the time, my dad and I rooted for the underdog. Dad taught me to find something to like about both teams. And, especially not to dislike an entire team just because of one player, or one coach, or one incident. He explained that would be like punishing an entire class of students because of what one student did.
He was a great story-weaver, and I loved hearing about his experiences on the field, the diamond, and in the gym. For instance, stories about why he carried an adhesive-wrapped ball-pein hammer in his duffle bag or the time he kicked his little brother out of a basketball game in Atoka, Oklahoma, or the time he kicked a coach completely out of the gym, or "Bumblebee, I jest pulled yo stingah."
We'll save those for another day.
Baseball was a great way of explaining to me things like: "You might hit a homerun but that doesn't mean you'll win the game." OR "Just because you lose a game doesn't mean you'll won't go to the World Series." OR "You'll never get to second base with your foot on first." Those probably aren't originals, but coming from my dad, they were gold.
Then there was the football one about persistence, making progress just a little bit at a time, and taking risks. . . if a team could gain three yards per play, they would always score a touchdown.
He also told me there's nothing worse than a bad loser unless its a bad winner. "Give credit where credit is due," he would say. Always congratulate the person who beat you, and then prepare and work hard so that you'll be congratulated at the next match. "Never make excuses for losing," was another one.
Probably, one of the most fun things my dad taught me was how to run. He said there was a technique to it, and we spent hours running races on the playground at Kellond.
The pictures on the link below . . . well, like they say, a picture tells a thousand words.