Take Me Out of the Ball Game

I’ve always been amused by men and sports.

The raw emotion they display when their teams are doing exceptionally well or abysmal. The animated expressions when points are scored or a bad play is made. The way they know the stats of the entire roster of a team as far back as each player’s pre-pro days. The way an injury affects them personally, and sends them scrambling to make sense of how the team will recover. The way they create “fantasy” teams. The way grown men actually cry when their team is eliminated from competition. The loyalty they show their favorite teams and players… even when they fail them…

It’s all fascinating to behold.

What’s even more intriguing is how they have all this wealth of information and feelings, but most of them reserve it for game time. When it comes to actual interactions and relationships with people, it turns into a different ball game.

The other day, one of my girlfriends took me to my first Yankee game. Admittedly, I’m not as diehard about baseball as I am about basketball, but I’ve always respected the Yankees, and an opportunity to visit the new stadium and view Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano’s butts up close and personal were an added bonus.

During the game, I witnessed so many men gesticulating and verbally expressing either displeasure with the pitcher’s performance or elation at a home run, I momentarily mistook it for a Jerry Springer episode. When one man proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of the sixth inning, my eyes darted to see where the cameras were rolling (they were actually right behind us).

The thrill of attending a sporting event suddenly took a turn into a world where men expressed themselves freely, honestly and occasionally in a bizarre fashion. They have their best girl by their sides in the stands, and they belt out tunes in unison and brotherhood — each of them understanding they are members of an exclusive club where the devoted are welcome, and rivals and fair-weather spectators get shunned and ostracized.

I marveled at the level of commitment and involvement it takes to be a sports fan. Not just because of the intensity and pageantry that is often associated with it (tailgaters and face and body painters — I’m looking at you), but because it indicates the amount of passion a man is capable of having for something that he truly loves. It’s probably the only time you’ll ever see genuine disappointment at the thought of a person being traded for someone new. But they adapt very quickly to change when the team performs better… something we can all appreciate. We can also appreciate when someone is cut for poor performance and unwilling to be coached.

It’s common knowledge that almost every team in every league has a marquee player. One particular athlete that stands out above the rest with exceptional skills, endorsement earning looks, and crowd pleasing bankability.  I’ve often considered that the best teams are the ones that have a culmination of good players who each have specific abilities that collectively make them unstoppable. They complement each other, and work together to achieve mutual victories as opposed to individual grandstanding.

It’s the difference between Kobe Bryant and the Dallas Mavericks. (There’s my basketball reference.)

…It also happens to be the foundation of a strong relationship. Ironic, since lots of athletes have commitment and fidelity difficulties — and women whose boyfriends or husbands are serious sports fans are often referred to as widows.

Clearly, there are different rules depending on the balls you play with.

Go figure.


Pride vs. Prejudice

At this very moment, my heart is filled with so much love for my hometown of New York and the people who live, thrive, and survive in this crazy and magical place.  After a long fought battle, our political powers that be finally passed a bill to allow gay marriage and essentially give them mainstream equality.  Long overdue, I say.

Although I personally have no one to call my own, it fills my heart with joy to see friends and family and even the occasional stranger who has found true love and is proud to show the world just how they feel about their significant other.  I would love nothing more than spending my days, months, and years growing old with someone who shares my passions and encourages me to grow, and is content with the thought of having me by his side and having his back in return as we go through life in pursuit of our mutual goals. 

With that said, it’s not fair for those who have found that to be judged, ostracized and denied rights simply because a group doesn’t approve of whom they choose to spend their lives with.

In all honesty, my fellow heterosexuals haven’t exactly made a strong case for marriage.  In fact, we’re not exactly stellar examples when it comes to simple relationships, either.  Monogamy itself appears to be a dying tradition, as people tend to use past hurts and recurring fears as justification to act the hell up and subsequently jeopardize any chance of having stable and healthy partnerships.  The numbers are staggering when it comes to divorce rates and single parenthood.  In the long run it affects our children, who grow up mimicking what they see; the bitterness, the promiscuity, the emotionless attachments just to fill voids as a sad substitute for what they don’t see: genuine loving relationships.

So for those who have shown what it is to be committed and invested in a long-term partnership — and desperately want to hold sacred all that the vows entail — I say let them.

For all the flamboyance and over-the-top imagery that tends to be associated with homosexuals, I somehow managed to find the two tamest gay men out of the whole bunch to be the best of friends with.  Whilst I flounder in the love department, these two have successfully found partners with whom they have been in long-term monogamous relationships with, and have even had civil ceremonies because they couldn’t wait for the rest of the world to catch up with their progression.  One has recently adopted a beautiful baby girl to make their family complete, and the other has endured the greatest test of their union as he battles an illness that doesn’t discriminate — and it has proven to have made him and his relationship stronger than ever.  They both have inspired me in ways I could never imagine, and when I think of either of them being subjected to any hardship, it makes me want to start rolling up in Catholic churches and publicly remind them of their legendary hypocrisies.  But that would make me digress from loving my fellow (hu/wo)man.

So for this moment, I’ll share in the pride that millions have shown this past weekend, and pray that it’s the beginning of a new era in which love and acceptance stands at the forefront — making a clearing for people to be who they are without fear.  

…Something we all should aspire to.