It’s that time of year. The classroom is packed up, the kids have gone for a summer away from the classroom, but for some reason I just can’t stop working.
Outside of the errands that were neglected over the course of the 10-month school year, I’ve been at school working on writing curriculum and planning events for next school year. It seems like a rite of passage; the school year ends, but while I as I see some of my peers taking pictures from exotic locales I continue to go in and out of school.
In order to try to push myself into a break, I’m going to be veering off course and starting a new subsection of posts that don’t focus entirely on education. For me, there is only one direction that a veer like that can take, and that is to talk sports.
The term bandwagon is coming up a lot in my hometown over the last 24 hours as the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup on Wednesday. I always use the sports angle when describing bandwagon to my English students, and it is generally with a sense of disdain that I describe fans who gravitate towards the winning teams and then leave them at the drop of a hat.
Unfortunately, I think I have become what I despise. I hope you don’t misunderstand, I am in no way a fan of hockey, and after today, I will probably go back to my general ignorance of the sport. However, for today, I am a fan of the St. Louis Blues.
I’m a fan for a few reasons, the main one being that I am happy for my city. I’ve lived in St. Louis for 17 years, but I still don’t feel like a St. Louisan. I wear my UCLA basketball shirts around town amongst a sea of Blues and Cardinals gear. I couldn’t even wear my UCLA hat the last few weeks because the logo looks like the Boston Bruins “B.” I’ve always been a basketball and baseball fan, and never really considered hockey an important sport. However, this town loves their Blues, and I felt truly alien when people asked me about watching the Stanley Cup games the last few weeks. I was watching, but I didn’t want to really admit it for fear of looking like what I despise.
I asked my hockey-obsessed students some questions about game tactics so that I could understand better when I watched. I’ve seen my former students posting watch party photos on social media. I’ve seen other non-hockey fans getting swept up into a movement, but what I’ve really seen is the heart of a city come together for something positive. If I can be just a part of this movement, I will feel more “St. Louisy” than I did before.
The other reason that I have loved this run is because I grew up an LA Clippers fan. For those of you who don’t follow basketball, if you take a long historical look at NBA franchises, the Clippers are possibly the losingest (yes I made up a word, deal with it) team in the league. I have suffered through terrible seasons, horrible injuries, stupid personnel decisions, and inexplicable playoff losses when the team actually had some semblance of hope. I understand wholeheartedly what it would be like to be a Blues fan because the Clippers are essentially the NBA version. This was the first championship in the 50+ year history of the Blues, and there were families sharing photos of generations of Blues fans emotionally celebrating the win. Fireworks were going off as soon as the game ended and there were screams of joy by Blues fans all over the US every time they scored a goal. It gave me hope that my faith will eventually get rewarded one day in the same way.
In English class, I have the students write a This I Believe essay. I take the rules and guidelines from the segment on the old NPR radio show, and I always have some examples ready of my belief statements to share with the students. The statement that often gets the most inquisitive responses is my belief statement about being a Clipper fan; “I believe in cheering for a perennial loser.” The students have a difficult time wrapping their head around why I would willingly invest emotionally in something that I know would eventually let me down.
I listen to sports talk radio in the car, so I have learned a lot of St. Louis sports history over time, and before this year the prevailing thought seemed to be, “how are the Blues going to screw this one up?” That is a Clippers sentiment if I have ever heard one. However, like most things in life, I tend to try to find the positive in any statement. I probably do move through life with that mindset that something is eventually going to go wrong, but when something goes really right, it is so much more meaningful.
For today, I have jumped on the bandwagon. I watched more hockey in the last month than I probably have in the 41 years of my existence, and I feel like I can at least fake a knowledge of the sport now. By the time the next school year starts, I will care as little about the Blues as I did before these playoffs started, but for now, I’m enjoying how happy so many people seem to be and I will dream of the day that I can celebrate like that with the Clippers.