Hello & Happy New Year, Everyone!!
Here is my first column of 2017. It gives a nod to my significant other and her love of college sports. She gets rather excitable to it politely and it is that energy that makes me love her so…enjoy!!
My wife Emmaline loves watching sports on television. People who watch sports
with us call Emmaline an “energetic” fan. She involves herself in all aspects of the
games. She expresses her opinion forcefully about the fans, the players, the coaches,
and especially about the referees.
Emmaline was never a typical “sports widow.” On the contrary, I have always
watched TV sports so I could be with her.
When she was a girl living in a small town in Utah, all of Emmaline’s friends were
New York Yankee fans. Emmaline always supported the Brooklyn Dodgers. Emmaline
and her friends used to listen to the World Series every year on the radio—often skipping
school to do so.
As they listened, Emmaline’s friends ridiculed the “Bums” from Brooklyn and tried
hard to get Emmaline to forsake them. But even during the years in which the Yankees
built its World Series dynasty, Emmaline remained loyal to the Dodgers.
Her loyalty was rewarded in 1955 when the Brooklyn Dodgers were matched
against the Yankees in the World Series. The Dodgers won that epic Series in the
seventh game. The win gave Brooklyn its first and only championship in the franchise’s
history. After the 1957 season the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.
Emmaline continues to be vocal sports fan. Every time the Letongaloosa
Community Junior College team plays Emmaline can be found in front of the television
set watching the game. She cheers enthusiastically for the players. She bemoans their
errors. But more than anything else, Emmaline vehemently denounces bad calls made
by the striped-shirted referees.
The phrases Emmaline uses to denounce the refs are the kind of made-up phrases
spoken by 1950s cartoon characters like Pogo Possum. She yells things like “Blagstag the
blag-stagging blaag staggers.” Emmaline avoids the kind of expletives and curses that
one often hears at a bar when a game is showing on TV. Emmaline is often vehement,
but she is never calumnious.
She is also a full service television sports fan. She gets physically as well as vocally,
into the competition. When games are close and badly officiated, our dog abandons
her place on the couch between us and lies down on the carpet across the room. I
remain on the couch, beside Emmaline, but I often place a thick winter cap on my
One day recently, when a game was in the early minutes of the first quarter, the
doorbell rang. Our new pastor had come to call. He was making a “meet and greet”
visit. I answered the door, and Pastor Mark, who is a large, ebullient individual, grabbed
my hand, strode through the door and was in the living room before I could get the
words, “Perhaps another time, Pastor,” out of my mouth.
Emmaline’s jaw dropped, but she was true to her mother’s teachings about
“Please sit down, Pastor Mark,” she said. “Would you like some warm apple
“Don’t trouble yourself on my account.”
“It’s no trouble at all.”
Emmaline had neglected to turn off the television, and by the time she got back
with the hot cider, Pastor Mark was sitting in our overstuffed chair gazing fixedly at the
“This is wonderful, Sister. Thank you,” he said. Then, “I love basketball. I played
college ball myself before I went to the Seminary. Wow, what a game!” Then he took
off his coat and leaned back, his eyes fastened on the TV screen.
It was a very close game, and for the next hour and a half Emmaline raised her
voice only slightly, saying things like “Go team.” and “Oh, no, don’t do that!” Pastor
Mark used the same tone and the same phrases.
Then in the last seconds of the game, with LCJC ahead by two points, the other
team shot and missed a three-pointer. A ref called a foul on one of our players.
“Dammit! That wasn’t a foul, you blooming idiot,” yelled Emmaline.
Horrified, we both looked at Pastor Mark.
` “Thank you, Sister Emmaline,” he said. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.”