Despite my Dad's best efforts, it would seem that he did not succeed in making his girls care, even a little bit, about sports. He tried his very best. There were afternoon baseball games at Fenway and a trip down to New Jersey for the Women's World Cup in 1999. Tennis rackets were given as birthday gifts and he gave up many Saturday mornings trying to drum up interest in ponytail softball and recreation soccer leagues.
Instead of embracing sports, we shunned them. I think my sister and I felt like disappointments in some way, through no fault of my parents' actions or words. But we grew up knowing that my Dad was a fantastic athlete and that he loved nothing more than playing softball or soccer with his friends, even then. We were decidedly not gifted athletes, tending towards dolls and crafts and movies.
No one was more surprised than me when I started to take more than a passing interest in sports. You will not be shocked to discover that this completely coincided with meeting Peter. It began with college basketball the first winter we were dating, and then the following year we moved to New York, home of Peter's beloved Yankees. Games were on in the background in our little apartment that summer and fall, and I started to embrace a favorite player of my own. Now, I'll happily listen to Bill Simmons on long car trips, sit through entire baseball games without whining even a little and spend an afternoon hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range.
With the distance of a few years, I realize that the foundation to become a sports fan was there all along. Peter just had the (admittedly somewhat difficult) job of stepping in at the end to close the game. So to speak.
For the first twenty years of my life, I had a fantastic, close-up view of a model fan in my Dad. He loved to play, loved to watch and had a decades-long devotion to his teams, despite their (mostly losing) records. I got to learn from someone who knows what it means to play nicely with others and that life should contain more fun and excitement than sorrow and seriousness. And perhaps most importantly, I saw that much good can come from believing in things that are bigger than you and mostly out of your control -- no matter how loudly you yell at the players while watching on TV.