Because Life can only be lived a moment at a time.

Keeping Score

I came to the faith as an adult.

I grew up in the Church of Hardwood, trained in the liturgy of free throws, jump shots, and Smith’s Four Corners offense.  My parents, North Carolina natives, had Tobacco Road in their DNA.  They were N.C. State Wolfpack believers, and the team’s 1974 championship is one of my sweetest memories.  I don’t need Google to recall the names of my favorite starters: David Thompson, Monte Towe, and Tom Burleson.  Mama spoke of “little Monte” (he was only 5’7”) with affection, the son she never had.

Columbia College, the girls’ school I attended for my freshman and sophomore years, held an annual powder puff football game. In a moment of hope and insanity I decided to play.  I don’t think I had ever even held a football before.  I attended every practice faithfully, looking forward to my athletic debut.  Daddy even drove to Columbia for the big game.  Alas, I didn’t come off the bench for a single play.  Apparently the professor who served as our coach was under the impression he was Bear Bryant vying for a national championship.
Football, you stink.

Seasons passed and I moved on to other things.  Even my love of basketball was pushed aside by work, marriage, and children.  I went through a dry spell, sports-wise, until 1991, when Older Son discovered the Atlanta Braves.  The Braves played the Minnesota Twins in the World Series that year, and although they didn’t win the championship they claimed our little boy’s heart.

Eventually ESPN’s “SportsCenter” grabbed “The Today Show” by the jersey and threw it to the sidelines.  Like a stranger in a strange land I started to learn the language and local customs.  I knew who was in contention in any sport at any given time and who had been left behind to lick their wounds until next year.  And football started to look good.

I belong to the collegiate sect.  I rooted for the Nebraska Cornhuskers when we lived outside Omaha.  ("Go Big Red!")  I shivered in the stands at the Air Force Academy, where I witnessed the best opening act in football: Flyovers by military aircraft and an actual falcon.  (I always wondered if that bird would fly away one day.)

Since moving to Virginia, I've gone to games at James Madison University, Older Son's alma mater ("J-M-U wish you had a Duke dog!"); Virginia Tech, Younger Son's (Metallica's "Enter Sandman"---need I say more?); and the University of South Carolina, Mr. Pettit's.   (The music of "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" precedes the arrival of a giant rooster.  Trust me, it makes sense when you're there.)

Do you see the pattern?  I love the pageantry more than the competition, the frosting more than the cake.  Before the 2013 season ends I'll find a seat at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina, and wait for a black tarp to fall away, revealing the presence of Cocky, the giant rooster.  When the Gamecocks drive into the red zone the USC band will play a tune that sounds like it was borrowed from Darth Vader's iPod---Waah, waah waah, waaaaaahhh---and the Carolina faithful will chant, "U-S-C, gooooo Cocks!"

For a few hours, from the first moments of the tailgate to the long slow procession from the parking lot, Mr. Pettit, our friends and I will live in a little bubble where the most pressing issue at stake will be the location of a brown leather ball.  We'll revisit days when our bodies and our spirits were the same age.  We'll retell the familiar stories that get better with time, share the dreams we still hold, and make new memories.

And pray that this time the Gamecocks will find a way to win.

Baked Goods

Time Travel