VIRG FOSS: A sportswriter, but a terrible fan
I have a confession to make. As someone who has spent much of his life writing about sports and the people who play them, I am a terrible fan.
Case in point is the Super Bowl six days ago. More than 100 million fans tuned into the game, Millions of fans built their day around it and partied hearty with friends while watching it.
Not me. I caught glimpses of it on TV. I probably watched less than a full quarter of the game.
It was the biggest game of the year wrapping up the season in the country's No. 1 sport and I couldn't care less who won.
I took some time to look inside myself as to why that was so. I came to the conclusion that while I am a fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I am not a fan of pro football. Rarely do I watch much of any NFL game not involving the Vikings.
I don't really know why that is. I like football. I played it at the high school and college levels and have reported on football games for different newspapers.
That's part of the problem. As a journalist reporting on a game, you are there to do a professional job. You are not there as a fan. So you clamp a tight reign on your emotions and leave the cheering to those in the stands.
After years of filling the reporter role, it's very difficult in retirement to make the transition to being a fan. In games I do attend strictly as a spectator, I find it awkward to cheer for either team. So I seldom do.
For whatever the reason, I find hockey to be the only sport I can watch with interest purely as a spectator. I watched on TV as the Minnesota Gophers played the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs last weekend, for example, and thoroughly enjoyed the games.
I can watch other college hockey games not involving the UND Fighting Sioux and enjoy them. I will watch NBA games involving the Los Angeles Lakers, my favorite team, but rarely any other NBA game.
I don't have a favorite NHL team. My TV viewing in pro hockey is generally limited to games involving former Fighting Sioux players. And the Stanley Cup playoffs, too. Nothing beats the fury and passion of that.
In pro baseball, I'll watch as many games of the Chicago White Sox as I can on television. I've been a fan of the Chisox since I was a kid. I'll watch the Minnesota Twins some, too, but generally with the sound off. Bert Blyleven drives me nuts as an announcer.
I'm not good company to be around at a game, either.
As a journalist, I trained myself early on to put full concentration on the game I was covering. So that limited any social interplay with others around me. I can be an owly grouch to those who intrude into my world at game time.
I wish I could turn myself into more of a fan these days. Fans look like they're having fun at games. I do, too, but the fun is channeled inward.
There's a cardinal rule enforced in every press box in the country -- no cheering in the press box.
I agree with that, abide by it. But darn, outside the press box, I often wish I could be a better fan than I am.
Foss is a Hall of Fame journalist who reported on sports for 36 years for the Herald until his retirement. He writes a weekly column from October through April. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (701)772-9272.