The day after Duke won the National Championship I had a fight with a man over the game of basketball. He told me I had no room to join in the conversation because I do not truly understand the game. I told him he needs to learn his audience before he opens his mouth, gave him a business card, and told him to look me up when he needed information on all things sports. The next day he comes into work, apologizes, then proceeds to tell me that I would never understand the true meaning of the game because I didn't come from the "hood." I was still a little fired up because I have played this thing they call "street ball." For crying out loud I broke my face playing "street ball." At that moment I decided that my post was going to be where you would actually find the purest, truest, form of the game.
Then something happened, a chain of events, I woke up Monday morning, turned on SportsCenter, and shot up straight out of bed. The Altoona Curve (AA team for the Pirates) were on SportsCenter. My beloved Altoona, my precious Blair County Ball Park, my Altoona Curve were on ESPN! Instantly, I grab my telephone, call my grandpa, and leave him a long winded voicemail saying that I needed to talk baseball with him.
The next day he calls me back and we chat. He tells me all about how the ESPN crew was at the game, all about how the grounds crew worked incredibly hard to make the field look beautiful, and about how the fans put on their Sunday best in case the camera swept their way. Grandpa tells me all about my little cousin, how much fun she had, and he even adds in that there are some new "flavors" of beer at the ball park that I have to try with him. I tell him not to worry, I'll be home the second week of May to surprise my mother for her 50th birthday and we can go to some games. He puts the phone on the counter and I hear him shuffling some papers. He gets back on the phone and says "Lisa, they are away that weekend you have to come the weekend before." Mind you, I go home to Altoona every July for almost the entire month and I go to plenty of games with him. I'm silent for a second, then I reply "OK Grandpa, I will." Immediately, I run into the office, change my days off, get home, and change my flight.
I was and still am, practically giddy with excitement to go to some Curve games already with my Grandpa. That's when it hit me, all arguing aside, all the fights I have had with people over sports, all the time and energy I spend trying to prove my point, that the only thing that matters is I get to spend three, beautiful, spring days with my Grandpa at a Minor League baseball stadium. That is the truest, purest, meaning of sports.
What makes sports so beautiful is the time you get to spend with people you love. The memories that are made trying new "flavors" of beer with your grandpa. Watching your little three year old cousin as she tries to crack open a peanut. Seeing a small central Pennsylvania town be so proud because ESPN is setting up two cameras. Buying my lil man Jimmy (cousin) his first fitted Curve baseball hat and him instantly trying to make it look "worn out" while sitting in the stands. I sit there with Grandpa and he tells me every game about how good my father was at baseball, how much my grandmother loved coming to the games to get her ice cream, we get tears in our eyes, then the Curve get a hit and we high five and take a sip from our beer.
That is the true meaning of sports.