Around the Carillon offices, I’m that weird guy who doesn’t like sports. Actually, it’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I’ve never cared. Let me explain.
When I was growing up, my dad would watch the Roughriders on TV, and usually a good portion of the NFL and NHL playoffs. I was always more interested in my Lego and action figures, however, and as a result, my dad never forced me to watch with him, or explained the rules to me. I simply didn’t care, and it was as obvious to him as it was to me.
My parents did want me to grow up well-rounded, and so in addition to making me play a musical instrument, I was told from an early age that I was going to play a sport. As for which sport, the decision was left to me. This, to a six-year-old Taylor, was like letting a condemned man choose the method of his execution.
Due to my palpable lack of enthusiasm, I tended to switch sports every six months or so in order to keep myself somewhat interested. In this manner, I dabbled in swimming, soccer, wrestling, taekwondo, diving, skating, golf, table tennis, skiing, and gymnastics (among others). I almost never stuck around long enough to get good, much less compete, and in the end I was left with very little exposure to anything beyond the very basics. I especially hated team-based sports, because my independent streak made the idea of winning (or losing) due to the efforts of someone else an intolerable concept.
This meant that when I signed up to play school basketball in eighth grade (a decision fuelled by peer pressure more than any actual desire), I had to research the rules so that I would have some idea what to do if someone passed me the ball during our first practice. Somehow, I think they figured out that I had never dribbled before. After perhaps the worst season in amateur basketball history (zero points, zero assists, zero wins, zero steals, zero rebounds, zero self-esteem), I officially retired from team sports.
While I have never felt that my lack of interest in sports makes me incomplete, or less of a man, I will admit that I occasionally feel a little left out. Often, an in-depth discussion of sports will break out among my friends or colleagues, and I’m forced to ask humiliating questions such as “that’s hockey, right?” in order to keep up with the basic flow of the conversation.
Football, especially, is arcane and mysterious to the uninitiated. The basics, as I understand them, involve separate teams for offense and defense progressing the ball methodically down the field using a combination of passing, running, concussions, and knee injuries, before scoring a random number of points through one of several strangely-named goals. Also, there are two sets of rules: one for Canada and one for the USA, and there is something called a “Brady” which appears to be very important.
When I mention my dislike for all things sporting, there are two common replies. The first is a call for exercise, which I counter by lifting weights and running (neither of which are considered sports when done non-competitively). The other common response is, “you just need to give [insert sport] a chance! I’m sure if you watched it a few times, you’d figure it out and start to enjoy it!”
These people are probably correct. I could, with a minimal amount of effort, familiarize myself with the rules and players of hockey or football to the point where I could follow the games on TV. My response, however, always remains the same:
“Maybe next year.”