Thursday, February 23, 2012

Me and Sports: A Love/Hate Relationship

There are just eight seconds left in the game. Our team has possession of the ball but we are down by four points. In the few seconds before the ball is hiked, several thoughts go through your mind. What are our chances of getting past the enemy's defense? Maybe a receiver will somehow break free and have a wide-open path down the field. The other team has played dirty throughout the whole game. We deserve to win. Come on, guys! You have to win! WE have to win! Finally, the moment has come. The quarterback has the ball. He's going to throw it...but there's no one open! Just before a defensive lineman hurtles toward our quarterback, the ball is released. One player from our team and two players from the other team are running to grab it. This is gonna be a close one! Six hands reach out for the grab; only two manage to hold onto the ball. Who got the ball? Who got the ball? WE DID! WE WON! It's a miracle! You are so happy you cannot contain yourself. You hug all the people around you whether you know them or not. You jump up and down and laugh hysterically. You feel so proud, it's as if you scored the game-winning points yourself!

Sound familiar? Before I graduated from BYU, I took an American Sports History class. While the class wasn't half as enjoyable as you might think, we did discuss concepts that made me look at the role of sports in our lives in an entirely different way. Think of the game of basketball, for example. All that's really happening is that there are five players from one team on the court trying to break through the defenses of five other players from the opposing team to put the ball in the basket. Simple, right? Wrong. What's really happening is that there are 50,000 people rooting for one team and 50,000 other people rooting for the other team. If their team loses, 50,000 people are disappointed, humbled, and down in the dumps. Why should ten guys on a court affect us so much? It's because every game is so much more than just a game. When BYU plays Utah, it's more than just a competition to see the physical prowess each team can exude. It is a battle between the schools themselves. When the USA competes in the Olympics, we are fighting to justify our national pride, to uphold our ideals and beliefs.

Maybe this sounds stupid, but it's true. I see it in my own life. When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series a couple of years ago, I felt some serious regional pride even though I really don't care for baseball that much. When the 49ers almost made it to the Superbowl this year, I wanted them to win just as much as everyone else even though I really hate professional football. It's because we assign so much value and importance to sports. It's so much more than the physical nature of the game. For us, it's personal.

My Dad's love of basketball was instilled in me at a very young age. I even remember watching the Jazz battle the Bulls in the 1998 Finals. Every spring I would watch the Play-Offs with my family. My Dad has been a Celtics fan for decades and we would root for them, both when they won and when they lost. Mom wore Dad's Celtics jersey to her job at the high school. I have a shirt with the Boston Celtics logo on it. I love Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. (I will always love Big Baby Davis and Kendrick Perkins even though they're not on the team anymore.) Those boys are my boys. They're MY Celtics. It hurts when they lose. It feels so good when they win!
Along with this love of the Celtics comes an automatic hatred of the Lakers. I have been asked a lot recently why I (and so many others) hate the Lakers so much. I've given this an embarrassing amount of thought to come up with a good solid reason for my animosity towards them. Is it Kobe's questionable personal life? No. Is it Gasol's annoying ability to flop around like a fish to fool the dumb refs into thinking he's been fouled when he clearly hasn't been? No. Is it former Laker Lamar Odom's relationship with Khloe Kardashian? No, it's not that either. After thinking about it for a good while, the main beef I have with the Lakers has nothing to do with the players themselves. The main reason I strongly dislike them is their fans.

(DISCLAIMER: I have many friends who love the Lakers. They are good people. I don't mean to offend anyone by this post...yeah...)

These are the top 3 reasons why Lakers fans make me hate the Lakers:
1) "If you don't root for the Lakers, you are rooting for losers." Let's just nip this common misconception in the bud shall we? Yes, the Lakers are good. They win a lot of games. I would be a complete idiot if I chose to deny that. But let me remind you that the Lakers do not hold the record for the most wins at the NBA Championships. The Celtics still hold that one.
2) Maybe I'm a horrible person but I believe in the stereotype that most celebrities are idiots. Because of their location, the Lakers team is the natural one for celebrities to turn to. Two words: Jack Nicholson. Enough said.
3) They never admit that another team may have played better than they did. The most common phrase that comes from a Lakers fan's mouth after they lose is, "They were just having an off night." When the Celtics lose, I freely admit that they played horribly and that the other team kicked our trash. But Lakers fans...the other team could be wiping the floor with them and they will still never say that their opponents played well. (Kind of on the same vain but not, I don't care who you root for. You can't deny that Ray Allen is one of the classiest NBA players out there, not to mention one of the greatest three-point shooters of all time. Just sayin' ;)

This is why I both love and hate sports. I love the action and the rivalries. I love the drama and the competition. But things get way too personal sometimes. When your team wins, it doesn't say anything about you as a fan. When they lose, there is no need to despair. It really is just a game.

(This blog was mostly for me. I'm sure I'm the only one that gets this worked up about sports...right?)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

February Photo Challenge

A friend of mine was doing the February photo challenge and I thought it would be fun to try it out.
February 1: the view out of my bedroom window

February 2: all the words I encountered throughout my day

February 3: this is what I've been doing with my hands recently

February 4: at the BYU volleyball game against Stanford (I didn't know them so they're strangers :)

February 5: at church in the McKay building

February 6: baked potatoes!

February 7: the buttons on my winter coat

February 8: there wasn't much sun to speak of that day.

February 9: my front door

February 10: ready for the Tri-Ward Winter Formal

February 11: movies make me happy!

February 12: my closet (my craft table, my huge bag of laundry, and lots of empty hangers)

I'll put the rest of the pictures up at the end of the month!

Lessons Learned

Everyone in my apartment seems to start out every conversation with a precursor or a disclaimer, like "I don't mean to be rude" or "Please don't judge me for this," so I thought it would be appropriate to start this blog post out with one. I go.

DISCLAIMER: I am writing this blog post to vent. For some reason, writing this down in my journal was not quite satisfactory enough for me so please don't judge me for the following diatribe.

I have lived in the same ward for the past year and a half. I moved into apartment W24 in The Elms for the 2010-2011 school year. I was a senior at BYU. Most of the girls in my ward were sophomores. Let me give you another disclaimer: I know what it's like to be a sophomore girl at BYU. You're no longer a freshman so you feel like you have a pretty good handle on BYU and its workings. You're in your first apartment complex where returned missionaries live right around the corner from you. You find a group of guys you like and you guard them jealously, giving the stink-eye to other girls who might be possible competition. Believe me, I know. I've been shunned, glared at, and excluded but, unfortunately, I have also been on the other side of the coin, too. So I know what it's like to be a part of the flirtatious "clickiness" that is sophomore year. Needless to say, sophomore girls can really drive me up the wall.

Despite the large number of sophomore girls, I found that I really liked my ward. I was comfortable there. Quite frankly, I was so bogged down with schoolwork that I didn't really have time to be annoyed by the exclusion. I was so wrapped up in my own little world that I didn't even notice that there were any clicks in the ward. I would hear the occasional "Man, that girl totally glared at me for sitting next to that boy in Sacrament Meeting," or "Yeah, a lot of the people in the Avenues are thinking about moving out because they never get invited to anything" (this particular complaint will be much talked about later on in this post) but I never thought much of it. How could people think that our ward was clicky or exclusive when we had people knocking on our door all the time, when people would come over to talk to us almost every day of the week, or when we got invited to do so many fun things on the weekends? As far as I was concerned, the 101st Ward was the only ward at BYU without clicks. Heck, my opinion of sophomore girls was even changing.

Spring and summer terms were fantastic. I was still in the same ward, just in a different apartment with different roommates. I actually had a social life. I went hiking, I went kayaking, I had a group of friends that I actually did things with on the weekends. I hung out with people in The Avenues and The Elms. The ward was seamless. Life was so good that I dreaded moving out of the ward and across campus to Condo Row where I had a contract for Fall/Winter. A contract opened up in the Avenues and I took it. I felt really good about staying in the same ward and I sold my contract at Condo Row. I graduated from BYU in August and I had the option of moving on to bigger and better things. But I didn't. Why? Because I thought that Provo was still the best place to be for a single Mormon girl. I had lots of friends in my ward and I didn't expect my awesome social life to change too much when school started up again for everyone else. Life was going to be swell!

Oh, how wrong and naive I was...

I noticed a difference in my life almost as soon as I stepped foot into my new apartment in The Avenues. Remember how I used to hear that complaint that people in the Avenues were thinking about moving out of the ward because they never got invited to things? Well, I became an "Avenues person" and, all of a sudden, the knocks on my door stopped. Invitations to different fun events stopped coming. People who I thought were my friends made no effort to be mine. Instead of being out and about doing things on Friday nights, I was sitting at home, watching movies or reading books. We invited people over to do things but they never came. I tried for a while to hang out with my old friends in the Elms, but I realized that the door is supposed to swing both ways in friendship and I felt like I was doing all the work. After a while, I stopped going over there and, judging by the amount of fun they seem to have over there without me, they don't seem to mind. I see pictures on Facebook of "the Elms people" all hanging out together and I've realized just how clicky this ward really is. The glares started to come back (and not just from sophomore girls).

I felt down a lot last semester. A lot of people thought it was because I didn't have a job. Others thought it was because I hadn't quite figured out what I wanted to do with my life. Those who know me well thought it was because of some difficult things that happened to my family. While those reasons were all contributing factors, they weren't the main reasons for my bad days and sour moods. The main contributor was loneliness. I didn't feel like I had any friends besides my family members, my roommates, and a few people in my ward.

I didn't write this blog to make anyone feel bad, especially since most of my troubles have come from my own blunderings. I wrote this blog to get the things out that have been frustrating me but also to tell you about the things I've learned.
  • A practical thing I've learned is this: When you graduate, PLEASE have something in mind that you want to work toward. Graduating from college is a big achievement. There aren't too many things better than holding a diploma in your hand that signifies that you just survived four grueling years of stress, worry, and fatigue and earned a Bachelor's Degree. But if you don't have a plan or at least a few tangible options for what you want to do with your life after you walk across that stage, that degree doesn't count for much.
  • A spiritual thing I've learned: Develop a good relationship with your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ when times are good. I had a good relationship with my Savior before these trials crept up on me, but I didn't realize then how important that relationship would be when times got tough. Last semester, when I didn't feel like there was anyone on earth who really understood me or what I was going through, I was able to develop my relationship with Christ further and rely on the only person who could really truly empathize with me. I prayed to Heavenly Father and He answered my prayers by putting people in my path who provided love and support. So when you are feeling all alone, turn to the Savior. He's the one friend who will never fail you. There's a passage in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women that says this so well: "'The troubles and temptations of your life are just beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom. His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of life-long peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother.' Jo's only answer was to hold her mother close, and in the silence which followed, the sincerest prayer she had ever prayed left her heart without words; for in that sad, yet happy hour, she had learned not only the bitterness of remorse and despair, but the sweetness of self-denial and self-control; and, led by her mother's hand, she had drawn nearer to the Friend who welcomes every child with a love stronger than that of any father, tenderer than that of any mother."
  • A hard thing to learn: Sometimes things don't work out because you need to learn that change is a good thing. I stayed in Provo because I was comfortable here. Because of recent experiences, however, I've realized that it's time to move on. There is nothing for me here. It's scary to think about going out into the unknown but I know it is the best thing for me now.
I've always wondered how people can say they were grateful for their trials, but I can honestly say that I am grateful for the ones I've had to go through. I've learned and grown so much. I have been sooooooo much happier this semester because I feel like my perspective of what life is really all about has changed. This life really is a refiner's fire. Just remember that the flames of life are meant to get rid of all the little impurities and make you a much better and stronger person.

(Well, that was supposed to be a venting session. It turned into something much different :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Country Music

I've been a fan of country music since I was in fifth grade. The long melodic lines and the stories that are told in each song really capture me. However, when I share my musical preferences with other people, they give me funny looks, groan, then proceed to tell me that country music is all about drinking, tractors, and cows. While I have to admit that quite a bit of country music is about that (I think the advertisement that precedes the following videos is actually about a truck as a matter of fact), you're missing out on some great music if that is all you think country music is. Here's some of the music I've been listening to recently:

You may not like it but I love it!