Before he became a pastor, my dad used to watch a lot of football – Ohio State (his alma mater) on Saturdays and the 49ers on Sundays. I used to watch with him. I totally understand Drew’s wrestling with his sports affiliations and how that will affect his kids, because it will – the teams my dad actively rooted for when I was a kid I still root for to this day. Part of me wishes I didn’t (e.g. the Reds, and their depressing end to a magical season), but it’s in my nature to be loyal to the end, so I have no choice.
I was always most crazy about watching football. Back when the 49ers were on CBS, I would watch Wayne Walker’s 49ers Preview without fail every Sunday morning on KPIX. I specifically remember weeks I missed it because it was so rare (like one Sunday, when one of our hamsters died. It had bit into an electrical cord near its cage and was electrocuted – my sister woke up to the hamster frozen stiff and the other hamster freaking out. We had some sort of makeshift funeral in the backyard where my sister was crying. I was just annoyed that I was missing Wayne Walker’s 49ers Preview). I remember one year I decided to watch every single college bowl game. This is back in the days when they were all shown on network TV (or on random over-the-air stations that syndicated Viacom and other random sports networks) number of bowl games was still small, back in the Bluebonnet Bowl days.
Since my dad only watched Big-10 football, I was especially (really only) familiar with that conference in the Earle Bruce, Bo Schembechler, Hayden Fry days. One random childhood memory I have is of watching an Ohio State – Iowa game one lazy Saturday morning. Ohio State dominated the first half, but had trouble getting in the end zone, and was up only a field goal at halftime. For some reason, my dad made some comment about how that’s a bad sign, that when teams dominate a half and the game is still close, the other team frequently wins.
For some reason, that comment stuck with me, mainly because it seems to be true. I’d love to see some statistical analysis on it. But it seems to happen all the time. Like with the 49ers this year. That first game against Seattle, they dominated most of the first half. But it took just a quick drive for Seattle to take the lead, and at that point, the game already felt like it was over. The opposite happened against Oakland; Oakland dominated the first half, but let the 49ers stick around. It wasn’t surprising that the 49ers ended up winning.
But they shouldn’t be proud. They got dominated for much of the game. Alex Smith is so bad that on one bad pass, the officials called intentional grounding. Singletary argued vehemently with the officials about the call but declined to elaborate on what he argued about in the press conference. With good reason – he must have basically told them, Smith wasn’t intentionally grounding, he’s just really really really bad. Which is the truth. The 49ers suck. It’s depressing.
I think a lot nowadays about what it means to be old. And I think there’s one thing that’s changed in my life that makes me older. When I was younger, a lot of things I enjoyed I did because they were new experiences. Nowadays, a lot of the things I enjoy I do because they remind me of a time, a feeling in the past. Watching football reminds me of watching football as a kid. The music I like most – even new music – taps into emotions that remind me of times when I was younger. Our church went on a retreat recently, which I enjoyed immensely, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of old youth retreats. Even all the new experiences we have with the kids, that reminds me of similar experiences I had as a kid. And that seems to be a big reason why I enjoy them so much.
I still really enjoy and seek out new experiences. But I find that I value nostalgia a whole lot more than I used to, and that it seems to pop up unexpectedly all the time. And that, to me, is a sign that I’m getting old. But there ain’t nothing wrong with that.