Saturday, November 19, 2011

true prattling. but hang in there, it has a point. maybe...

since i've been back in the south, i've watched more football than i ever had before.  i was really never that much into sports growing up, though i did play and watch some tennis.  later in life i would be bitten by the baseball bug but that has been explained in an earlier post. i was only really interested in tennis because i grew up playing.  and i grew up playing because my father loved the game.  i'm not clear on how he became interested in it but he loved it enough to build a court on the land that would eventually be our home. 

so i played tennis.  i still do and i would have to admit that a great many of my friends are from playing that sport, but i would never say i was in love with the sport.  for the last 15 years or so i have taught tennis, in part because i have degrees in english and let's face it, what else am i qualified to do?  one of the things i do like about tennis is that it is something you can do alone or with a partner, or even as part of a team.  for years, i played doubles with a guy who eventually became a close friend of mine. 

but competition has never been something i aspire to.  to be sure, i like to win, and during a match i am driven with a desire that seems to know no bounds.  however, once the match is over, i'm usually back to my old self in a matter of hours.  mike, the aforementioned doubles partner likes to say: "win or lose, we are still drinking".  and when asked about how he was going to handle losing in the finals of a major tournament, one of my favorite players, patrick rafter, said something to this effect: "i'll probably go have a few drinks with my mates, make love to my girlfriend and get up the next day." (side note: i've searched high and low for this quote online and can not find it, but do remember hearing it.  if anyone can find it, please let me know.)

maine isn't what you would call a hotbed of football; hockey rules the state for obvious reasons.  but even throughout new england football isn't considered a major sport.  sure, you've got the patriots and for a few years, boston college was a minor to middling success.  but in general you will hear more about maine hockey, the red sox and the celtics. 

therefore, when my nephew jake, who is in law school at ole miss, asked if i wanted to play in his fantasy football league i was understandably hesistant.  but my girlfriend is a fan of football (being a missouri native, she is partial to the university of missouri and the saint louis rams) and i thought it might be fun to do something she likes and also do something with my nephew and (just as important) my brother who also agreed to be in the league.  and overall it has been fun.  i am fucking horrible at it; we are in second to last place and most weekends mary and i have the lowest score of all 8 participants.  i knew very little about pro football when we started and am only marginally more learned now, some 11 weeks into the league. 

but like any good leaguer, i follow the games on sunday and delight when someone on our team gets points through the admittedly convoluted scoring system.  there's a hope in there that maybe a couple on your team will have a breakout day and score a bunch of points.  this has happened a few times though we are hopelessly out manned most weekends. some detractors of fantasy leagues say that these type of things dilute team spirit because you have multiple players from multiple teams on your fantasy team.  but since i'm not a real big fan of football anyway, it's great for a casual watcher like me.  and it does get me to watching more football than i normally would ever watch.

you know, when i started this essay, i really had no idea where i was going with it, and i think it shows that.  oh, it has a strand of sports in there, but mostly it reads like an email to a friend or at best maybe a little article on fantasy football.  when i got through the first paragraph, i thought it might be about the differences between sports in the north and the south, but that seemed to fizzle out pretty fast.  in the end i think it boils down to more of an essay on family, believe it or not. ours has never been what you call an extremely close family.  we love one another, for sure, but we don't spend a lot of time doing things together.  for years, we were spread far and wide, my brothers were in virginia and mississippi respectively, my parents in arkansas, and i was in maine.  there's never been an official "burns reunion" that i know of, and i can't remember the last time all of us were in the same place at the same time. 

i'll admit that i probably have a lot to do with this.  i'm not given to large groups; i detest christmas and indeed most holidays (more on this in a later post) so i'm not apt to try and gather everyone together or indeed to join in if they do.  i'm prone to melancholia at gatherings and prefer to not join in if possible.  there is probably a deep-seated reason for this, but i'm no psych major and don't really care to over analyze it.  i have different things that i do with each family member.  rick and i share the same type of humor and political bents (if it can be said that i have a notion on politics) and like the same type of media.  i have him to thank for turning me on to monty python and a love of puns.  bob and i play tennis and fish together and i owe my direct manner and whatever little compassion for humans to him, though he is a much kinder soul than me.  my mother and i share a love of cooking and jeopardy and as stated before, i owe my love of books and tennis to my father, though it's hard to distill any of these people down to one thing.  in short, we are a family, and through the years i've tested their love and devotion to me through selfish, thoughtless deeds and actions.  and each time they have shown me compassion, forgiveness and devotion. 

people grow up.  they move one, they spread out and they grow apart.  they make other friends, start their own families and live their own lives.  but one thing, if you are really fucking lucky, is to have a family that will be there for you through all of those things.  and like i've said before, i'm a lucky guy. fantasy football gives my brother and me and the next generation of burns' something to do together, it provides a connection.  so while you may not see me jumping up and down at the next local football game or see my at my old alma mater cheering, you will surely see me playing in fantasy football next year with them if they will have me.

for those of you who read through to the end of this rather long, rambling essay, i thank you and owe you all a beer. 


  1. My 16 year old son just suggested I get an xbox and call of duty 3 so we can be online together. I have never played video games but intend to start- I enjoyed this post thanks.

  2. thanks justin, glad to know a poet is reading this! i think the last video game i played was pacman myself. that's cool that you are going to do that for your son.

  3. You had me at "I owe you a beer!" ;) Great post!

  4. thanks, steve... i learned all my best rambling from you. :-)