What did it mean to me, what's my history with it, what's happened to my interest in it?
Let's start by saying that I wasn't all that effective in playing sports. I was occasionally the last one picked for various teams in my youth, but that really was because I'd skipped a grade in elementary school, and so I was always less coordinated than my peers in school. This became less obvious in college.
I liked playing volleyball and basketball, but as a sophomore in medical school I sustained an injury to my left ankle, and I can no longer play sports. Can't run on it, either. Unfortunate. Some years ago, while my wife and I were visiting the beach with a group of acquaintances, they were playing beach volleyball, and I couldn't resist participating. I did well for fifteen minutes, and then my ankle gave out, and that was that.
As a child in Wisconsin, I remember my father taking me to Braves games in Milwaukee, Cubs in Chicago. I also recall going to Blackhawk games in Chicago, but never seeing a goal, because every time someone would score, everyone would leap up, and I was too small to see through them. I recall going to an occasional Harlem Globetrotters game, and that was always fun.
As a teen in LA, Dad would take me to the Dodgers, the Lakers, the Rams, and to UCLA football and basketball games. With respect to the latter, I went to nearly every home game from Lew Alcindor's sophomore year until Marques Johnson graduated. Great basketball. I found a great love for college basketball and professional football. I also found that I really couldn't stand baseball. In one event, Dad took me to see the Dodgers play, and I didn't realize that Bill Singer was pitching a no-hitter; I only knew that I was bored out of my skull. It wasn't until the umpires ruled that what looked like a base hit as an error did my father realize I didn't know what was going on, but that also was because nobody wanted to mention that it might be one for fear of jinxing it. In the end, Singer got his no-hitter, and I recognized that baseball wasn't my cup of tea.
I went to UCLA for undergraduate, and I participated in Rally Committee, which is a sport support group. We helped usher, set up the priority seating arrangements for the student body, and put on the card stunts at the football games. While there, I was the driver of the Helmet, a cart with a UCLA football helmet depiction as its roof.
I also used to love watching the ABC Wide World of Sports, back in the day; it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with my father, watching these athletes perform in many different ways. It prepared me for my future love of the Olympics.
Then, I met the woman who'd be my wife.
See, if I was going to give her the time with me that a true relationship deserved, then I'd have to find some time in what I was doing. I couldn't take time away from work, so that left only a few hobby activities. Where did I get it from? Sports.
Although over the years we've gone to occasional ball game of one sort or another (Dodger game with friends when they played the Red Sox; UCLA football once in a while when my father was still alive; Rose Bowl when Wisconsin played UCLA...stuff like that), most sports I've given up. I can't imagine spending hours watching ball games on TV these days. Heck, I can't remember when I last sat through the whole Superbowl...
I still pay some attention. The Olympics we watch pretty religiously, and I treasure some memories of Olympic events. We're excited about the impending London games. But those only come for a couple of weeks, every other year, not like the constancy of the flow of sports news that we have otherwise.
Do I miss it? I'm too busy with other things to really miss it. However, if LA had a pro football team, it might just be different...maybe, maybe not.