Rainy Side View: Sports fans

After a yearlong drought of professional sports, some are thirsting for games to start up again. I am not one of them but closely related to a few who are. Before I get into that, let me explain my ainokea position.

When I was growing up in Hilo, girls did not participate in sports. We were too refined and not allowed to sweat. We daintily played badminton in gym class but outdoors, only the boys lined up for baseball, basketball and football.

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The only other physical activity we enjoyed was bowling — safe and sanctioned by parents like mine who permitted such after-school gatherings so we could practice. Our teams were not mixed but the next best thing, with alternating boy and girl clusters at Hilo Lanes so we could check out each other’s athletic form and style. Those were racy times.

Things are different today when girls can kick a soccer ball in public without getting the vapors. Mahalo to the late Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink for supporting Title IX in 1972 which prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving federal funding.

But back to sports fans who, glassy-eyed with tongue hanging out, drool over their favorite team on national television. I’ve lived with a few of these devotees and this is how I have been able to observe them.

First, they show up in unexpected places at odd times. It always surprised me when family members came home in the middle of the day to catch “The Game” being telecast in another time zone. Don’t you have a class? Or a job? But during the season, these team supporters follow their own call-of-the-wild, ignoring requirements set up by school, work, church, me.

They devise bizarre rules leading to scenarios such as the one canonized in the delaCruz Sports Memorial to Chicken Nuggets.

One year during a nail-biter at the play-offs, family fans were glued to the TV, holding their breath, not even finishing the few chicken nuggets still on the plate. When a non-sports-minded sibling sauntered by in search of a snack, she got warned by the fanatics to not touch any nuggets or else their team would lose. Undeterred, she rolled her eyes and recklessly popped the remaining morsels in her mouth.

The team lost … and oh the noisy wailing and finger pointing. Even today, decades later, the hapless nosher is seasonally reminded how their team bit the dust that day many, many years ago because she ate the last chicken nugget.

Loyal sports supporters who were forced underground due to the long pandemic are now surfacing like groundhogs. Despite deadly COVID variants still at large, faithful fans, overjoyed at the return of their favorite games, can once again paint faces and don wacky hats (although we’ve recently learned that such behavior isn’t confined to sports events.)

Sometimes when I drive around Hilo, I see large banners hanging from garages announcing: Bears Country or 49ers Rule! It reminds me that ‘Tis the Season and zealous fans are lurking in the bushes. I confess that after 30 years of living with sports maniacs in the Pacific Northwest, I too might occasionally cheer, but only for raptors and canines such as the Seattle Seahawks and University of Washington Huskies. And thanks to my genteel upbringing, I do not yell myself hoarse nor wear blue and green attire emblazoned with a silver Hawk head nor hang a purple and gold Go Dawgs! banner on my garage door.

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But just to be safe, I stay away from chicken nuggets.

Rochelle delaCruz was born in Hilo, graduated from Hilo High School, then left to go to college. After teaching for 30 years in Seattle, Wash., she retired and returned home to Hawaii. She welcomes your comments at rainysideview@gmail.com. Her column appears every other Monday.

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