Well, March Madness is over. Phew. I can socialize in mixed company again, instead of checking my phone for imaginary texts when the topic shifts to the NCAA.
Sports don't come naturally to me. As a middle-schooler on the basketball team, I quickly went from newbie with potential to person who smiles at her parents in the bleachers every time she gets the ball. Shortly after that, I never got the ball again.
But I'm not completely sports-illiterate. I actually have a decent grasp on the NBA. It all started with a family member whose love for the New York Knicks knew no bounds. The walls would shake as shouts of "YES!" and "COME ON!" and "#$*%!" were hurled at the TV screen during games.
I'm talking about my grandmother, of course.
As a little girl, Grandma introduced me to the fun of pro basketball. Over the last few years, my husband revived it with his love of Lebron James and the Miami Heat.
I called Grandma to ask how she became a Knicks fanatic. She said her four sons got her into it as they grew up. They would watch the games. She would sit with them. Ask questions. She only came to love the sport because they loved it. And isn't that how it happens?
I know some wives plan to leave the room -- or house -- when their husbands turn on "the game." I can sympathize. It can be a bummer to ask questions every time a whistle blows, because you have no idea why.
But if the fandom runs deep enough, it may be in the non-sports-lover's interest to take an interest! Example: I have a very close girlfriend who is a die-hard Braves fan. I don't know how baseball works. I would never watch it on TV. But with her, I saw a game at Turner Field. What an experience! The best part was the smile on her face, knowing she was sharing something she loved so much with someone she loved so much.
My dad had a near perfect bracket this year ... for the first couple of rounds of March Madness. And even though I jumped in blindly, I watched a handful of games just for the sake of his bracket. Once it fell apart, so did
my interest. But until that point, it was a great bonding topic we could talk and text about.
So what's up next, sports fans? Well, to be honest, the final season of "Mad Men" on AMC. And though I won't force it, I'm hoping to see a little reciprocity. If I can get amped for Lebron James, my husband can do the same for Don Draper. Or Joan Harris, if he prefers.
The things we do for the ones we love.
Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cafeaulazy.