Saturday, 13 July 2013

Jon Bear Journal: Sports in My Life

I do not often discuss sports on our blog outside of my and Carlyn's bets on the London Olympics.  Sports, however play a huge part in my life and truly have a daily influence upon it.  As a child I grew up in a family that was not necessarily full of sports enthusiasts.  My father would watch some golf and tennis, but I do not think that my sister Heather or brother Robert had much interest in watching sports at the time.  It was my mother who would occasionally watch the New York Mets baseball team with my twin brother and I when we were little.  The fact that the Mets were an exciting young team on the rise at the time really made it easy to become a Mets fan in the early 1980s.  The whole family actually took to the Mets by 1984, and to varying degrees myself, my twin Clifford, and my sister Heather took to the New York Islanders hockey team.  Clifford and I also became very big NFL (American) Football fans, albeit of different teams.  Clifford became a Cincinnati Bengals fan and I became a San Diego Chargers fan.  I was 8 years old at the time I really became interested in televised sports.  I also enjoyed watching tennis and the Olympics.  I think that baseball may have become my favorite sport in part because it was the one sport that our whole family would watch together.  So while I LOVE the game itsself, I often think that the childhood memories I have of watching the Mets with Heather, Robert, Clifford, mom and even sometimes dad, is what really resonated so strongly with me as a genesis of that love.

My family was not heavily involved with athletics either, Heather played field hockey and Robert ran track, but Clifford and I took to several sports.  We were good at most all of them but did not really excel in any.  If there was one sport that defined athletics for the men in our family it was wrestling.  My father was an extremely accomplished highschool and collegiate wreslter.  His father, my grandfather is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, as well as the New York Wrestling Hall of Fame. My oldest brother Robert (10 years my and Clifford's senior) was a high school wreslter when Clifford and I were little (between 5-8 years old).  Clifford and I would later become wreslters in high school, following in the footsteps of our grandfather, father and older brother.  I have played a variety of sports over the years though outside of school as well.  I actually played a great deal of baseball, basketball, american football, tennis, and ping pong... not to mention little made up games that Clifford and I would compete in.  It helped having a twin brother who was always there to play with.

I still love to follow high school wrestling in New York State.  To me, that sport, more than any other is a connection with my past, a connection to my Grandad and to my dad, whom I love and miss dearly, as well as a connection to both of my brothers who are fine men.  I feel like the sport played a large roll in shaping the values that were instilled in all of us generationally, and should I ever have a son or daughter I would hope to pass on those values and the love of wrestling to them.  While I was not a particularly good wreslter, I truly enjoyed the friendships I made throught the sport and the hard work and disciplin it took to compete.  I am no longer active in playing sports the past 3 or so years, and it's something I really miss, both from the point of helping to keep myself in good physical condition, and in making friends and competeing.  I have often considered trying to become involved in a winter sport like Curling.  I think it would be fun to try something new that I do not know a whole lot about.  I have yet to take that leap though, and give it a try. 

My daily involvement with sports now is as a spectator and participant in a small portion of the many fantasy sports games that exist online in today's culture.  I follow the Mets, Islanders and Chargers very closely, as well as my high school Wrestling team The William Floyd Colonials.  I have become a huge college football fan and college basketball fan, even though I do not have a favorite team (which actually makes it easier, because it spares me the degree of feeling disapointment that I might feel when watching the Mets, Islanders or Chargers).  Heather and her husband David are huge Washington Capitals hockey fans now as well as New England Patriots (american football) and to a degree Washington Nationals (baseball --- even though I THINK Heather still favors the Mets a little there???) fans.   I have always loved talking sports, so being able to engage Heather and David in sports conversations without boring them to tears is something I truly enjoy and helps me bond with them.  Clifford and I talk sports whenever we are around one another.  Robert is the least interested and involved member or our family with sports, even though he always goes to and loves cheering for his daughter Katrina in all her sporting events.   I can still bond with Robert though in talking about high school wrestling with him on occassion.  He and I have even gone to the New York State High School Wrestling tournament together twice now, and I always have a great time.

So I guess what I'm getting to is that sports is MORE to me than just sports.  Sports is family.  It's the people I love and the people I've spent the majority of my life with.  It's a connection that I will always have with Dad (wrestling), Mom (baseball), Clifford (everything... haha), Robert (wrestling) and Heather (football, hockey and a little baseball).  In a small way I guess, I feel if I let go of sports, it's like letting go of them.  I know I can't do that.  I know I won't do that, so sports will ALWAYS be a huge part of my life until my dying day.  =)


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