Columns

2010.09.22 Local boy visits big sports arena

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

I made it to a local volleyball match last week, along with a football game and a cross country invitational. I even went to a BMX tricks event. You’d think I love attending sporting events.

Actually, I often wonder how much time I’ll spend watching games after I’m no longer there as a working man. My guess is that the word “fan” won’t be used in conjunction with my name.

I get interested in college sports and then quickly become disgusted knowing that probably half the time wouldn’t even have been accepted into the school without their athletic abilities.

Professional sports? Well, I’d rather watch a movie. But in 1992, I went to a Detroit Lions game and here’s how it went:

Why did my friend say he was so happy for me when he learned I was going to participate in one of the world’s largest traffic jams? What kind of a friend is that?

It was a trip to the Silverdome in lovely Pontiac to watch the Detroit Lions mess with the Minnesota Vikings. Overall it was a rather strange experience.

This wasn’t an event in which I asked to participate. I could have glanced at the score the next morning and been more than satisfied. It’s just that my son was going and somehow a driver was needed and...you can imagine the rest.

When a spare ticket remained, I invited two fathers to join their child in the car but I couldn’t talk either one of them into going. Did they know something I didn’t know? Had they been to the Silverdome before? Was it the thought of a heavy McDonald’s meal sitting in the stomach after the game?

You couldn’t beat the price for the game. The tickets were Sunday School specials for only a dollar a piece. There were Congregationalists and Methodists and Lutherans and Catholics and heathens—all from Morenci and all tucked away in our little section of the end zone.

That turned out to be the wrong end zone because I think five of the six touchdowns were scored at the other end of the field. One of the teams would put together a nice drive toward us and then just like that the quarter would end and everything would be moved down to the other side of the plastic field.

I think it would take me a while to grow accustomed to an indoor football game on carpeting, but there’s no reason to be concerned because I’m sure I’ll never be there again. I went once, I made it through to the end, I paid my dues.

I write about high school sports every week, but I couldn’t be classified as much of a sports fan. The only time I watch a professional football game is at a family holiday gathering if someone happens to turn the television on. But I know enough to know that the Lions’ Barry Sanders is pretty hot stuff as a running back.

So what did he do Sunday? He wiggled and jabbed and twisted and then fell down. He didn’t get anywhere, but he did trip and fall down quite often.

Let me say this: He can fall with the best of them. Probably better than most. Put an average high school running back on the carpet and there’s no way he could fall down as fast as Barry Sanders. He definitely has a multi-million dollar knack of tripping.

One of the most exciting plays was when the Lions’ big lineman Jerry Ball picked up a fumble and ran for a touchdown. And where was I? I was standing outside a bathroom listening to the crowd roar, waiting for one of the kids to come back out. And where was the kid? He had breezed out the other door and was back in his seat watching the big play.

I must admit, I’ve never seen a bathroom like the Silverdome bathroom. So many stations along the walls, you’d think there wouldn’t possibly be a line-up, but there was. I would say the bathrooms are as awe-inspiring as the big dome itself.

We didn’t get lost too often on the way home, but it seemed like an awfully long trip. The Ballad of Jimmy E, a spontaneous performance erupting from the back seat, lasted several miles longer than I ever thought possible.

And then the rap version began.

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