As my regular readers-the Spitballers and Spitballerinas of the world-are aware, last week I single-handedly won the Super Bowl, which is a HUUUUUGE deal. It's literally the World Series of sports and has been my greatest accomplishment of 2013 so far. Some will insist Joe Flacco and Jacoby Jones deserve some credit, but that ignores what I put into the season: the dedication, the hours spent each Sunday on the couch, drinking beer, not washing my lucky clothes, burning the unlucky ones, mocking the athleticism of 260-pound men who can leap over a garbage can and outrun a riding mower. And in the end, it was worth it. But now, the Ravens' season is over; the Terps' tournament hopes are fading fast; the Capitals look like they'd lose to the ducks-not the Anaheim Ducks, but a team of actual ducks; and Orioles spring training is still a few weeks away. What's a big-time sporty sports fan like myself to do to fill that Lombardi Trophy-sized hole in my soul?
My first attempt was watching noodling on ESPN 86. Noodling is when rednecks jam their arms down the gullets of monster catfish, which was OK, but not nearly as erotic as it sounds. I tried watching golf, but I sat there for seven hours and they never even got to the windmill. The courses at Jolly Rogers are way tougher than anything Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy face at Pebble Beach, and besides, I can't take a sport seriously where the two best guys in the world are named Tiger and Rory. Tiger and Rory sound like a pair of hardboiled cops bustin' heads on the mean streets of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. The PGA's top 10 also includes a Justin and a Brandt-these are the names of Whiffenpoofs, not athletes. If you've got to go all the way to the No. 9 player in the world to find your first Bubba, it is not a sport.
I was so desperate, I considered becoming a die-hard fan of the thrilling world of professional sailing. Then I found out the Volvo Ocean Race was ditching fair Baltimore for totally un-fair Newport, R.I., and my frail heart was broken: Televised sailing, you're dead to me. One friend, sensing my despair, suggested I try watching the other football, by which I assumed he meant Canadian, and, as I'm always a fan of a good rouge, I thought I'd give it a try, but when I found out he meant soccer, I was as bent as a Beckham. I'm a sports fan, and Spaniards in short-shorts gallivanting on the lawn, trying to accomplish their goals, is no sport in my book. (But if they added a bull or two to the mix, I think they might have something.)
When my wife pried the remote out of my hand with a hot, sharpened spatula seven hours into a marathon viewing of the well-worn VHS tape of the 1983 USFL draft I keep squirreled away in my sock drawer (can you believe Ramsey Dardar fell to the Generals in the third round? What a steal!), I began to think for the first time in my life that maybe TV didn't have the answer, so I did what the depraved and the desperate have done for generations. I went to the track.
Horse racing is a sport, right? I mean, they call it the sport of kings, but I didn't spot anyone wearing a crown at Laurel Park, though there was a 6-foot, gray-bearded sasquatch of a man wearing an electric-blue tracksuit who offered to shuck for me an oyster from his pick-a-nick basket. The track was fun, and it's refreshing to go to a professional sport where the programs list which performance-enhancing drugs the athletes are taking (most were juicing the Lasix, but one of the horses was on linebacker velvet spray), but I don't think I could make a regular go at the races. First of all, there's my debilitating fear of short men in silk, and then there's the fact that I lost nearly $3,700 betting on the beige horses to place. (Like the great handicapper Wesley Snipes once said, "Always bet on Beige!" He did say beige, right? Thank God I've got my prodigious City Paper expense account to count on. Evan, I saved my receipts.)
Eventually I came to a horrifying conclusion: If I wanted to get my sport on, I might have to stop spectating and actually-gasp-participate. (BTW, that gasp came from typing, which should give you a glimpse into the poor state of my cardio health.) After learning that playing Madden doesn't count as participating and that pinochle is not technically a sport, I decided to try my hand at the gym. Here's the thing they don't tell you about lifting weights: Those things are freakin' heavy! So I asked around for some advice and a buddy suggested water sports, a simple Google search left me confused and weeping (all this time, I thought I was alone), then he clarified that he meant actual water and actual sports, so I decided to give scuba diving a shot.
Once that was cleared up, scuba seemed like a natural choice-it's the sport of the bold, the adventurous, the man's man, and, unlike the sport of swimming, you don't really have to know how to swim to scuba dive, which is great, because I can't. I'm two classes in at the moment, and scuba offers a lot of what I got from watching football. For instance, it requires little to no effort, and the thrill of watching my beloved Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl was similar to the joy I get from not drowning in a pool wearing a borrowed wet suit. I wonder if I've got enough air to stay down until baseball season? Come on, Orioles!