What Sports Taught Me

What Sports Taught Me

Taylor
Taylor
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I very clearly remember the night of January 24, 2010. Ok, yeah I had to look up the actual date, but that's besides the point. I was laying in bed, listening to my mom sobbing upstairs, repeating "this was supposed to be our year." The New Orleans Saints had just defeated the Minnesota Vikings in overtime and where on their way to Super Bowl 44. To this day my mom is convinced there's some conspiracy that the Saints only won because of Katrina. I digress. At the time, I remember being sad that my mom was crying, but I just didn't understand how she could be so upset over a game played by people she didn't know.

Flash forward a couple years. I get it now.

This weekend will be the first Vikings playoff game of the season, and hopefully not their last. The next few weekends are guaranteed to end in tears, happy and sad, regardless of how far the Vikings make it.

To clarify, I'm not overly emotional in my day to day life. To make my point, five words I wouldn't use to describe me are: positive, emotional, enthusiastic, passionate and compassionate. My boyfriend calls me an ice queen, my mom has likened me to Meredith Grey and her dark and twisty ways. Unless I'm watching sports.

The first game I cried over was last years playoffs, when the Packers eliminated the Cowboys from the playoffs in spectacular fashion. Granted I hate both teams, but I can't stand Cowboys fans and how cocky they get and desperate they are to revive their past. They really thought their two fancy rookies were taking them to the Super Bowl that year, which made me nauseous to think about. After Mason Crosby's game winning kick, the camera panned to Ezekiel Elliott in disbelief, and I was so overcome with joy that I started to cry. Thankfully the Packers ended up losing in the next round, because while I was happy they defeated the Cowboys, that's as far as the Vikings arch enemy is allowed to progress.

A few weeks later, I found myself crying because of sadness caused by a football game for the first time. Like most people outside of the New England area, I didn't want to see Brady win yet another Super Bowl. Naturally, when the Falcons blew their huge lead and lost in overtime, there were some tears. There were also happy tears when the Nashville Predators advanced to their first Stanley Cup Finals in franchise history. And a few days later, many, many tears of sadness when they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

What this has taught me is that when I care and am passionate about something, it's 120%. My boyfriend doesn't get it, much like how I didn't get how upset my mom used to get. I tried to describe it to him is that because I love football and hockey, mainly the Vikings and Wild, I give it everything. Sometimes I feel like I'm part of the team. I celebrate their wins, mourn the tough losses. I follow them on social media and watch hours of videos on YouTube, I start to feel like I know the players. I put myself in their place when they're playing, imagining how great that win must feel and replaying the loss to try and find somewhere things could've gone differently. When I'm watching a game, I feel like I'm watching my friends, and who wants to see their friends upset? And who doesn't want to share in their friends happiness?

Maybe it doesn't all make sense. Maybe I'm a little crazy, caring about a game and teams of players I've never met. What crying over sports has taught me is that when I care about something or someone, I'm loyal til the end and will give everything and more to it. It was something I didn't know about myself until I started watching sports, and something I didn't expect with my personality. So thank you football and hockey, for teaching me that I'm more than just a hopeful, delusional Minnesota sports fan.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.google.com/search?q=minnesota+vikings+and+wild&rlz=1C1AVNA_enUS598US598&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjmuurKgtPYAhVH7oMKHaWBC6QQ_AUICygC&biw=1366&bih=637#imgrc=WUiUKDc7K9PQiM:

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To The Coach That Fueled My Passion

Thank you for everything.
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Everyone always talks about the coach that killed their passion and made them lose their love for the game. I understand that some people aren't cut out for coaching and that their lack of the right skills may have ruined some promising sports careers, but for every awful coach that might tear you down, there is a coach that inspires you and works you into a better player.

SEE ALSO: "To The Coach That Killed My Passion"

This one is for all of them.

To the coach that fueled my passion for the game,

Thank you for having passion for what you do.

Every time you went the extra mile, it paid off. Your enthusiasm and love for the game set the tone for every practice. You were a role model to me and fueled my drive to be the best I could be and helped my love for the game grow stronger than ever.

Thank you for caring about me.

You took me under your wing and helped me improve my talent and grow as a person. You knew that winning games wasn't the only thing that mattered and always paid attention to the team's emotions. You were more than a coach, you were a friend.

Thank you for believing in me.

Coming into your season I might not have had the greatest form or a perfect teamwork mentality, but with every mistake I made you never once tore me down. You cheered me on and built me up. You not only corrected my mistakes but you also made sure to shoot me a smile when praise was due. You didn't let my results go unnoticed and you definitely made all the hard work worth it. Seeing you proud to be a coach made me happy to be on the team.

Thank you for teaching me.

When I made mistakes, you didn't yell or get mad, you gave me constructive criticism and helped me to become a better player. You focused on my strengths and helped me utilize them while also building up my weaknesses and making sure I learned something every practice. You turned me into an all-around great player.

Thank you for being hard on me.

You pushed me to my limits and believed that I could accomplish anything if I set my heart to it. You knew I always need a little extra help when it comes to breaking down the wall of 'I can't do it' and turning my average abilities into something unstoppable.

Thank you for going easy on me also.

You worked me hard, but also knew when to give me a break. Thank you for not expecting too much and for not pushing me to my breaking point. I never felt ashamed when I didn't succeed at something new the first time I attempted it or pressured to meet expectations that were much too high.

Thank you for letting me be a part of the family.

You understand that the sport only requires so much skill, and the rest is made up of heart. Without good team chemistry there's never 100% success. But you brought us all together and molded us into one big, happy family. You made the court feel like home.

And for all of this I can never thank you enough, but I hope you know now just how amazing you are at your job and how much you meant to me.

SEE ALSO: "An Open Letter To The Volleyball Player I Used To Be"

Sincerely,

A Very Grateful and Inspired Player
Cover Image Credit: Sarah Hinderman

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To The Boys That Question My Bracket

Happy March Madness, ladies.

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Ah, yes. The things girls who like sports deal with consistently, that make us want to blow our brains out.

I am quite sure that by now most of the population has seen things on Twitter on Facebook along the lines of "just because I can't name the 1987 coach's daughter's step-son does not mean that I do not understand sports", and honestly it reigns true. I once had someone ask me to name as many players on the roster as I could as a test. And let me tell you, after 21 years of proving my sports knowledge, and loyalties, I am over it. Especially in March.

March Madness, the time of year everyone fills out a bracket full of men's college basketball teams that they either know nothing, or everything, about. People have all kinds of strategies in March, but for some reason, women get questioned more about their "weird" strategies than men do. (I am not dumb, I know the reason, it's just stupid).

Maybe in the past, or this week, I have chosen teams because they have a cool mascot, or I just like underdogs, or the name of the school is cool, but is it that wrong? The whole point of March Madness is the madness. It means any team can win and make a run and no one actually knows what is going to happen.

So yeah, maybe picking my chosen college to win it all when I was a senior in high school backfired because they lost first round. But I will also never forget the year that Morehead State won in the first round and I had that on my bracket, and in the words of my father that March, not even the coach's mom had them picked to win that game. But anything can happen, that is the beauty of the madness.

Which brings us to this year. Just because I carry around a pink tote bag and wear makeup does not mean that I am any less capable of picking a bracket well than anyone else is. So if you are out there, thinking about asking someone if they picked Gonzaga to win because a bulldog is a cute mascot, stop. A bulldog is a cute mascot, but Gonzaga is also a good basketball team... so chill.

And in case you were wondering, underdogs, cute mascots, and cool school names (along with the fact that I, despite being a girl, watch a lot of college basketball) got me first place in a bracket pool full of my boyfriend and his friends. Take that.

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