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Sports interest waxes, wanes

If someone had told me that one day I’d be reading the sports section of the newspaper, I would have had a good laugh. Yet here I am, in my eighth decade, flipping through The Oregonian to find sports and read the commentaries on the latest Blazers game and articles on the players.

First, you should know that I am not a sports-type person. From time to time I’d try to get interested in the games that entertained my husband and son for entire weekends on TV. But, no matter if it was the hushed-voice commentators of golfing tournaments or the cheering crowds in football stadiums, I’d soon be drifting off to dreamland. Much later I’d be wakened from my comatose state by calls of: “What’s for dinner?”

Also, I was never athletically inclined. Back in my country-school days, I was always the last one to be chosen on any side for any game at recess time. In high school, my height precluded letting me be on the girls’ basketball team, but that was ruled out after a few P.E. classes. My only association with sports in high school was being a cheerleader. This was fine with me as I considered it easier than dribbling a ball around the gym floor, plus I got to wear a cute swirly skirt and satin blouse rather than a boring uniform. And I also got to go on all those fun bus trips to and from out of town games.

Being a cheerleader forced me to learn a bit about the game. It would have been embarrassing to dash out on the floor with a “rah, yeah team” at an inappropriate time. And the more I learned, the more I enjoyed it. In the 1940s, basketball games were big and well-attended events in the small, consolidated high schools of rural Iowa, and it was fun being a part of the revelry and rivalry.

Basketball became a part of my life again during the years I worked at a large city high school as secretary to the principal. Newly married and not having a large budget for entertainment, we took advantage of the free admission to school events, mainly the basketball games.

The teams were usually good enough to make it to the finals of the state tournament. This event always seemed to coincide with Iowa’s last hurrah of a snowstorm, and I recall several white knuckle trips to and from Iowa City in blizzard conditions to cheer on the team.

During my early years of parenting and being a stay-at-home mom, my interest in basketball waned but then revived briefly during our son’s high school years when he played in the pep band and needed transportation to the games. I also attended football games when our kids were in high school — just because I wanted to see them performing in the marching band at halftime.

There were years of sports dormancy after that. I did take golf lessons and played for several years, but never well enough to make it entirely enjoyable.

Then a few years ago, I became interested in basketball again. Friends kept talking about the Blazers and after watching a game or two, I found myself looking forward to the next one ... and reading about them. You might say I went from not giving a rip to a full-fledged Rip City fan.

I’m not the only one in my circle of friends addicted to following the team as the games are often a topic of conversation at the bridge table and other groups. And there’s my friend Judy in exercise class who I feel missed her calling as a coach. I sometimes detect looks of amusement, or possibly puzzlement, from other members of the class as we avidly discuss the previous night’s game.

My daughter and her husband are also fans, and on game nights, she and I limit our nightly phone conversations to halftime.

I even have an NBA app on my new smart phone, so I can check the score when I can’t watch or listen.

So after years of the unread sports section going directly to recycling, it is now the first part of the paper I read with my morning coffee. If the phone rings during an exciting game, it will go unanswered — such is my addiction these days.

Go Blazers! Rah, yeah team!

And as the announcers say at the end of a winning game, “It’s a great day to be a Blazer.”

Jo Ann Parsons is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

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