Game On! (A Family Legacy of Sport)

“Are you ready for the kickoff tomorrow night?” My mom asked me on the telephone. “Cowboys against the Giants.”

“Um, Mom, aren’t you supposed to wish me a happy birthday first?” I asked, amused.

“Oh yes. That too,” said Mom. “Now don’t forget tomorrow night.”

As if I could. I come from a family that worships at the at the altar of football . It is probably fair to say that growing up in my family, Kickoff Day in September was more revered than the first day of school, and the Superbowl was like the true New Year’s Day. Game Nights were family nights, with everyone gathered around the television, beers and sodas in hand, screaming noisily at the screen.

Okay, everyone except for me. Why? Because I preferred to sit in a corner of the living room with a book to my nose, scowling whenever the room erupted with cries of “TOUCHDOWN!” and “INTERCEPTION!” Football was a sport that grew on me over the years, like smooth jazz music and fine wines.

That said, it was impossible to avoid the influence of my sports-crazy family. From a very young age, I was taught that to speak against the Amazing San Francisco 49ers is like blasphemy. I remember standing outside on our balcony with my brother and sisters, looking toward the glittering lights of the Bay Area, blowing plastic vuvuzelas and screaming with pride that the Forty Niners had just won Superbowl XVI. We memorized the words to the We’re the Forty Niners song, which we played obsessively on the record player and sang at the top of our lungs.

Joe Montana, unarguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time

We’ve got the power!
We’ve got the heart!
We’ve got the soul!

We’re the FORTY NINERS!
We will rock you ’til we win the fight!

We’re the FORTY NINERS!
We’re dynamite!

School event on Monday nights? Nope, sorry, our family was busy. Phone ringing in the middle of a game? Ignore it. We were taught to look down our noses at Raiders fans, and to hate the Dallas Cowboys with a fiery passion reserved for the worst possible scumbags.  Ours was a San Francisco family, till death do us part.

Things are a little different today. My mother, who has long since relocated across the country, now roots for the New Orleans Saints. My oldest sisters have grown somewhat indifferent to football. And I am just a crazy about international football (aka soccer) as the American version. But a few things remain the same. In a family that has been separated by time, distance, and dramatically different lifestyles, there is still one thing that keeps us knit together, one reason to pick up the cell phone and call each other…as long there isn’t a game on.

Who’s got it better than us? NO ONE!

In honor of my Uncle Harrison (1946 – 2012), former college football star and receiver for the Minnesota Vikings.

 

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