At grandson #2’s birthday party several years ago, in the course of a friendly discussion between my current wife and my ex-wife, the ex-wife mentioned that one of her new husband’s virtues was the fact he was not a sports fan.
A mild rebuke to myself, but it did not bother me—sadly, being a sports fan was one of the lesser sins I committed against the sacred contract of matrimony while married to her–and one my present wife must also endure (which she does mostly with tolerance, although there are occasional grumblings about being a football widow on fall weekends).
On the drive back home, I thought about fandom and came to the realization that being a fan was one of my defining characteristics, perhaps the most prominent after the standard ones: family, occupation, life events and associations.
I possess no great skills, cannot boast of any major achievement. I am, instead, a fan—of other people’s great skill and achievement; of acts of physical and moral courage; artistic endeavors; the written word; noble gestures, physical grace, and manual skills. Joe DiMaggio was my first idol; jazz musicians have been a major source of inspiration throughout my life since my teens. In recent years, I have taken pleasure in watching Mike Holmes fix a house and Lidia Bastianich create a meal.
But first, I was a sports fan, like many an American boy before and since, and, with the events surrounding my arrival, how could it have been otherwise?