Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sports Fan.

There are very few sports that I really enjoy watching. I grew up in the midwest, but by Junior High, the national football team in my hometown (St. Louis) had been traded away and the city would not get another football team for another 12 years. By that time, I had graduated from college and a few years later, I would have moved away to San Francisco.

To this day, football confuses the hell out of me. AJ used to play center in junior high and comes from a family of football players. Whenever we end up watching football (usually by accident, or during a group watching of the Super Bowl - which I watch usually because I want to see the commercials and to keep an eye out for any more "wardrobe malfunctions" - hopefully on a male singer this time...) I am constantly pestering AJ on all the rules of the game. "Why are they stopping the game now? What's a down? Why are they kicking the ball now instead of running with it? How come that was only worth 6 points instead of 7? The list of questions goes on and on.

I was forced to play soccer when I was in grade school (something about character building, plus I think my mom hoped that I would lose some of the fat that I carried around). I hated it and hence have never really watched it since. A brief year abroad in Holland in high school made me appreciate soccer (football over there in Europe) as a spectator sport but since American had pretty much ignored soccer as a sport, I quickly lost the momentum when I came back here. Besides which, the US soccer teams always sucked (still do - though they are getting better). This year's World Cup probably has increased our nation's appreciation of soccer, but I'm probably too old to be jumping on that band wagon.

I probably would have liked hockey as a sport to watch (all that violence) and St. Louis actually had a decent hockey team while I was growing up (The St. Louis Blues - who at one short brief time had Wayne Gretzky) but alas I never got tickets to see them. My parents weren't sports fans either. The only tickets to sports games that we got were the Straight A tickets in the nosebleed section of the baseball games.

And so baseball became the default sport to watch growing up. And let's face it, unless you are at the actual game itself - with the hotdog, coke, popcorn, and chips, baseball is really boring. People strike out, there are balls, and if it's a good game, there are few runs. But mostly baseball is slow. Nothing to hold your attention unless you are hardcore fan, and I wasn't. Nine innings could be excruciating to a small child with the attention span of a gnat, and my family usually left after the fourth or fifth inning. I still occasionally enjoy going to a baseball game here in San Francisco, but mostly for the sausage, garlic fries, and the novelty of watching people throw a ball around. The best thing about the going to the game is that you can hang with friend and eat junk food, and talk all the while the game is going in background and it's not considered rude. Well, not in the seats that we get anyway. The rules are pretty straightforward in my eye (much more so than football) but I refuse to actually pay for a ticket, so alas the chances to see a game are pretty rare (I think I've been to four games since moving here - all free promotional tickets).

I won't go into the lack of basketball in St. Louis (absolutely no team worth watching) or golf (soooo boring) or tennis (back and forth. back and forth). I occasionally watched the Olympics, but only certainly sports made my cut. Diving, swimming, gymnastics, figure skating, all perked my interest. But my favorite Olympic sport was RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS.

It's also probably the gayest sport to watch. Ever. The little girl running around with a ribbon or a hoola hoop dancing and jumping just amused the heck out of me. Gay men might flock to watch diving, or men's gymnastics (the Russians on the rings, doing the iron cross seems to make most gay men drool) but rhythmic gymnastics is probably the gayest. Who else is going to watch a teenage girl run around doing flips and cartwheels while jumping through a hoola hoop? And when they had to throw that plastic ball up in the air and do four cartwheels and backflips and then have to catch the ball BEHIND their back... well I just think that's dandy. If only all sports could be this graceful and dramatic.

But the reality is rhythmic gymnastics really only occurs every four years. And despite my praising the loveliness of it, I really don't watch it even when it comes on. And that leaves me without a sport to root for or watch.

Becoming a sports fan didn't seem to be in my cards. Or so I thought.

This weekend AJ was out of town and my friend Amy and her husband Jeremy were in town. They were staying with my friend Jenny, and Jenny told us about a hip little event that is all the rage with the kids these days.

Roller Derby.

Why I was not hip to this amusing little display of violence is beyond me. The game itself is fairly simple. There are two teams with two "jammers" (one from each team) who score the points and blockers (three or four from each team) who block. I don't really understand the entire strategy or all the rules, but basically the jammers try to get around the blockers by pass them. If they can do that, and then loop around again and pass again, they get points. All the while the blockers are doing their darndest to beat the hell out of them and push them out of bounds or knock them over.

It's one vicious sport.

And it's (indie) rock and roll fun.

Starting the game was a faboo group of old school hip hop dancers. Five ghetto fabulous girls came out with a boom box (ghetto box style cassette player) and popped and breakdanced to old school Run DMC and LL. Cool J. The routine culminated in the two lead girls taking off their earrings and "dancing off" old school style. The crowd ate it up.

Then to the game. Most of the roller derby players had drag queen/wrestling names to go along with their rock and roll demeanor. Names like Janesaw Massacre, Genghis Blonde, Hurricane Skatrina, Annie Agony, Lemmy Chokeya, Keely Kills, Rolita Raunchita, or Dis-lo-Kate were all duking it out on this time rink trying to get past each other and shoving each other. The game consisted of three rounds - and though the teams seemed evenly matched in the beginning, the Treasure Island Gold Diggers pulled ahead by the second round by a good 20 point over the Alcatraz Escapees.

Most, if not all, the players were the sort of hipster San Francisco women that you see rocking the Mission. And not the bridge and tunnel Mission folks that come in on the weekend and complain that there's not parking. I'm talking the piercings, tattoos and dreadlock women that don't give a shit about what they look like, and all the while look hot regardless (or perhaps because of) this attitude. Jenny's friend Dan kept on raving on and on about Iva Vendetta (one the kick ass jammers for the Escapees) and how she was a viagra on wheels. Jenny later said that's how he normally is - I believe the phrase she used was "He's a walking sperm."

Amy was fascinated by all these women who looked alike, with their dreadlocks and their punk rock tattoos and piercings. "It's amazing how they all seemed to have found friends that look just like them! That's so great!" We had to explain to Amy that it was a pretty common look here in SF. Throw a stone on Valencia Street, and you'll hit one (and they'll probably come and kick your ass for throwing a stone at them).

Amy and I were rooting for the Treasure Island Gold Diggers. They had better outfits - black with gold accents. Some of the skaters had gold short shorts, or gold sequin minis. They kicked ass. But our allegiance was not solid. We would normally root for the Gold Diggers - especially if the girl with the dreadlocks was the jammer (we couldn't see her name as it was covered by her dreads, but I think it might have been Injure Rogers) but every now than a cute kick ass jammer would take the lead on the Alcatraz Escapees and we would start rooting for them. Our favorite was Panda Monium. She was sassy! She had painted her eyes black to look like panda bear eyes, and we just thought that was adorable. She apparently had a following too, as I saw more than one person wearing a baby blue tshirt with a picture of a panda head and a couple of cross bones underneath.

The half time show featured Ultra Gypsy, three bad ass tattoed punk belly dancers. I've seen some serious bellydancing in my time (shout out to Stephanie, Michelle, Erin and all the other bellydancer I know) and I have to admit, I liked what I saw. Granted I stopped watching after the first set - having seen better and more interesting shows before - but they were pretty decent for what they were. The crowd was half hipster indie kids and the other half lecherous old men, but both halves seemed to be enjoying the dancing.

By the second half things were brutal. The Treasure Island Gold Diggers were much in the lead, but The Alcatraz Escapees definitely were catching up. Near the end of the game, they were only trailing behind by 2 measley points. The final score - Gold Diggers 74 to Escapees 61. A comfortable margin but one that was cost them sweat and tears.

With the Roller Derby as just an appetizer I now plan on becoming a full fledge sports fan. Granted Roller Derby is probably as off the beaten path as you can get, but still. It's a rock and roll good time, and I plan on being there every game I can catch.

The other reason I'm all prepped to be the new biggest Sports Fan ever is that AJ had left this weekend to go to the Gay Games. He was competing in cycling. Now most of America has caught up with the cycling craze thanks to Lance Armstrong. But watching the Tour de France with Lance leading up those hills can be nifty for short periods of time, but anything longer than 15 minutes and I quietly sink into boredom.

But with my boyfriend competing it's a whole different game. AJ went with his friend Eric on Monday to cheer and rally for their other friend Robert (Dr. Bob) who they cycled with during the AIDS lifecycle and who was on their cycling team. Robert was competing in the cycling criterium - which is a crazy race on a track where everyone is next to each other cycling as fast as possible, constantly turning on the track. AJ had already stated that he didn't plan on competing in it because it's just scary. But at the last minute, Eric and him decided "Why the hell not? We're here already!"

So they competed.

And AJ won GOLD!!!!

Robert was the only person who beat him in his heat, but Robert is in a different age category and hence AJ ended up getting gold in his division!

Whoo hoo!!!

And I CANNOT believe that I missed it. AJ competes in a solo time trial on Wednesday and the entire team (including Robert who won the gold, and Eric who won a bronze) compete on Friday. I'm taking the red eye out Thursday night to see them all compete on Friday. I can't wait. I'll be the one cheering and yelling and rallying them on. I'll be their biggest Number One Sports Fan!

Because I am ready this time. I know how to cheer.

And they better win GOLD!


At 10:00 AM, Blogger Felisa said...

Go AJ! That's awesome!

ALSO. Did you know that one of the cable channels aired a short-lived reality show about the all-girl roller derby league in Austin, called "Rollergirls"? It was not great, but I watched every episode that aired and loved it. I think I may have been the only person in America who watched that show. If you guys go to see rollerderby again, CALL ME.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Rita said...

What's funny is that though you have not been a sports fan in real life, you have played one on the silver screen.

You do know how to cheer!

In fact, it was your inspired performance in that critically acclaimed movie that provoked me to go all-out, likewise, during my big break as an [insert mad coughing fit here] American Idol fan. But that is a story for another time.

I love that AJ beat everybody in that race except the friend he went to cheer! That makes this the perfect sports story. They both got Gold!! Everybody wins!!

You know, just deciding to compete at all already makes you a winner.

Especially (apparently) if your name is AJ.


At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Amy said...

Hi Mr. JackHonky! It's me, Amy! Hope you are having a good Midwest tour. I thought I would share our pics of the not-so-uniquely tattooed ladies from Roller Derby night:;;;


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