Begin they did, and at a very young age!
I've always been a sports fan, just like my mom. I can imagine her stressing out, swearing at the TV while pregnant with me, which would explain a lot. My mom told me that, as a toddler, I was hanging out with my dad and uncles, watching a baseball game, when I first voiced my disapproval of a sports play: "that was a shitty pitch," I said. "And, it really was," my mom said. Baseball was a big part of our family, as my dad played and coached when I was a kid, and both he and my mom played on a team together before I was born. My dad also grew up with Canadian baseball legend, Larry Walker, and George Morneau (father of MLB star, Justin Morneau) in New Westminster, BC, where the game was truly a part of the culture.
As much as I loved baseball for a good healthy portion of my life (I can tell you exactly where I was sitting in my parents' house during both of the Jays' World Series wins, and what I was eating) it was football and hockey that stole my heart, and have yet to return it.
"Habs, Canucks, Seahawks, Lions!" This was something my Uncle Murray used to try and get my cousin Nick to say when he was a baby. Those four teams have been quite definitive in our family history, but things have evolved. For me, you can take out the Seahawks and put the Steelers in their place. Big time. My fascination with the Pittsburgh Steelers started while eyeing up my dad's old Steelers knitted hat as a child. That hat is now mine. See, the Steelers used to be my dad's team, and the Minnesota Vikings were my mom's (cough, cough), but since the NFL introduced the Seattle Seahawks, they became sort of like the home team around Victoria and Vancouver, and my parents decided to be Hawks fans. Growing up, I thought all of those teams were cool, likely because of my folks, but as the years wore on, the black and gold starting seeping into my veins, becoming a part of my being. Super Bowl XL had the Seahawks taking on the Steelers which, as you can imagine, was quite the event for myself and my family. The Steelers won (oh yes, we did) and there were many tears shed; I was overjoyed, while my sister was absolutely devastated by defeat. I don't even think she said goodbye when she left my parents' place that evening, and I don't blame her. I get it.
As for hockey, my parents were both huge Habs fans growing up, so cheering for Montreal came naturally to me. Since both of them were raised in BC, once the Canucks were born into the NHL in 1970, things began to change. The Vancouver Canucks slowly but surely started taking over first place in the "who's your favourite hockey team?" race. For a while, there was much debate over whether each of them preferred the Canucks or the Habs, but I know who they'll both be cheering for when that illusive Canucks/Habs final happens. Interestingly enough, it's my sister and my cousin Nick who carry the Habs torch in the family, and would most definitely cheer for them over Vancouver. No question. I know where my loyalty lies, and that's why I actually never want that fantasy final to ever happen. I don't want to hate the Habs.
These things have all been running through my head today as I, and many others, get geared up for tomorrow's beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I just took a deep breath after writing that sentence, and slowly exhaled. If you're as big a fan as I am, you know full well what I mean when I say that I love the playoffs, but watching my team play is not exactly relaxing. See, watching your team play a game in the playoffs is the emotional equivalent of running a marathon; you feel good at first, but once you're in the thick of it, as much as the adrenaline is pumping, the pain sets in. I've never run a marathon, and likely never will, so that's probably a bogus analogy, but whatever. My point is that, when you've become so invested in a team, and you feel so incredibly passionate about them, you really feel like you live and die by them, and with them. Their success is your success, and their failures and limitations are yours as well. I once wrote a journal entry about how I directly view my life in terms of how my teams are doing. In 2011, both the Steelers and the Canucks were very close to winning their respective championships. They lost. I lost. That was a very challenging year. I sometimes joke that I'm going to turn out like Angelica Houston's character in Buffalo 66. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a solid and please watch it.
On that note, I bid you farewell, and wish you luck if you're one of those people that may come across me during this time of ultimate chaos. Also, I wish your teams the best! Unless I hate them, in which case I hope they burn in hell. Go Canucks! Go Habs! Go heart! (please let me live to see another season).
I'm finally doing it--pulling my insides out and splattering them around for all to see. Here we go!