Aging With Life And Sports: When Two Worlds Collide

Joe D.Analyst INovember 29, 2008

I’m only 17 years old.  Only.  Only.  That word continues to shock me as it minimizes my “problem.”  I can say that I have, so far, lived an awesome life and continue to look forward to the future.  Voting, going to college, graduating, getting married, having kids, etc. all intrigue me.  But for some reason the number 17 is killing me this year and I have a feeling that 18 will be just as bad. 


Aging is not fun.  But ever since about eighth grade, I’ve only thought about how much it’s going to suck to age.  I’ve pretty much wasted my childhood thinking about how I’m aging and I can’t even explain why. 

Let’s see.  I have two loving parents that make life both fun and funny.  They’ve never beaten me and we get along very well.  My sister and I are pretty close even though she’s moved out to start her own career. 

I have five pets (including one dog that is 13 but you wouldn’t be able to tell he was a day over five) and that started some inside jokes about how insane my parents can get with their animals.  I’ve lived in the same house, the same room, for my entire life and love the stability. 


I live for summer.  Not to party or do anything like that, but I love being able to unwind for a bit.  Not that I live a very stressful life, quite the opposite.  I go to school, run for cross country or track than go home.

On the weekends, I’ll either watch football (college and pro) with my friends returning from college or just watch football by myself.  I don’t mind either personally, though joking around with my friends is my preference; it still is a huge thing for me. 

Cross country and track are my two sports I do in high school.  I played baseball for 13 years but quit after freshman year.  I miss it badly and even got a little sentimental going to a sporting goods store seeing a father and his young son examine the new shipment of bats.  The sound of two aluminum bats is a sweet sound, just because it reminds me of the beginning of baseball season. 

Anyway, I’ve found a lot of success in running.  I’ll be able to run at the collegiate level which is great.  My first three seasons were good but only showed small improvement.  I was the middle Varsity member but I wanted to stick out.  But I was lazy.  No summer training or anything really kills a runner when the season starts.  I decided I wanted to be an influential captain. 

My senior season, I called up everyone and we trained everyday in the summer.  I formed close friends with guys who I just said “hey” to in the hallways and not much more.  We all improved mightily and I understood what it was like to be a coach. 

Seeing all of these guys improve after seeing them put the hard work in made me decide that I wanted to be a coach after my college days.  I was our No. 1 guy all season and not to brag, but I feel like I may have influenced my school’s team for a few more seasons, which I don’t mind.


But going back to the summer training, it showed me why aging sucked.  I grew a close bond with seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshman.  Next year, I’ll be able to visit them a few times but for the most part; I won’t be there.  Sure there will be a new team, but I remember what it was like to be a freshman.  Then a sophomore and junior and seeing guys you ran with graduate. 

The team chemistry changes as you miss those older guys cracking jokes.  It’s almost like the end of an era.  For example, when Tim Tebow graduates from Florida; watching the Gators won’t be the same but you sure as heck know that the team will miss No. 15 giving a pep talk before a game or celebrating during it. 


Aging is a natural process but for some reason it hits me harder than most my age.  Looking at pictures of when I was younger can get me a tad emotional.  Not to the verge of tears or anything but enough to make me think about how much has changed. 

Chart-toppers such as N*Sync, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys seemed innocent as compared to today’s T.I., Rihanna and Lil’ Wayne.  You think of September 11th and the terrible events that transpired since then.  I was in fifth grade when that happened and that may have affected me a great deal. 

It’s obvious that there are good people and bad people in this world.  But to see the bad at that extreme is very powerful, especially to a younger person who believed a fat man up North gave you presents.  It changed me, I know that. 


I am only really passionate about my sports, which has also changed a whole lot since I started watching them.  Why is a NJ resident a Colts fan?  When I was young, I was a bit of a sports prodigy when it came to reciting stats.  I have a whole stack of sports almanacs in my room as well as the inaugural ESPN the Magazine. 

I go to the same high school as Steelers great Franco Harris did and my mom actually went to school when he was a senior.  So my family is kind of passionate, to the near-extreme, of their Steelers.  As a kid, I decided I wanted to rebel and like a different team.  I was a huge Mark Brunell-Jaguars fan but that was probably a three to four year thing. 


But I started watching college football and the Tennessee Volunteers were on and Peyton Manning, a junior QB, threw this amazing pass to his WR Marcus Nash that turned me into a Manning fan. 

I remember, in his senior year, the commercials for the great “Heisman Chase” that included Marshall’s WR Randy Moss, Washington State’s QB Ryan Leaf and the eventual winner Michigan’s DB Charles Woodson who would onto win it.

I was so upset when Peyton finished second but still followed him closely.  It was quite obvious that I would become a Manning fan and when I saw Paul Tagliabue announce that Manning would be an Indy Colt?  That’s all I needed to become a fan.  Then I started to learn about the franchise, management and other players and I became a legitimate Indianapolis Colts fan. 

The Phillies are a family and personal love.  I’ll never be happier with those two teams (and the Flyers) then I could ever be.  My sister went to Rutgers and I love following the Scarlet Knights, but it doesn’t have the same fire as the Colts and Phillies do.


This is why sports are a huge thing for me.  Peyton Manning has been a Colt for his entire career and ever since I was 8.  Sports are a constantly changing environment; even if you aren’t a fan you probably understand that.  Manning is my favorite athlete and his stability as the starting QB for the Colts is one of the main things. 

You grow an attachment to your team and certain athletes and Manning, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and John LeClair all have that “special” feeling to them for me.  When LeClair left Philly, it hit me pretty hard.  I moved on but it felt like going through a breakup where things end without a definitive end.  It drives you nuts on how you feel like you know someone without ever seeing them. 

That’s why I think America loves its sports.  The familiarity between yourself, your family and the teams is what makes it worthwhile.  We all have stories about our teams to tell our kids or whoever wants to listen.  It’s deeper than just balls and strikes or first downs and touchdowns, it’s almost camaraderie. 


You get camaraderie in real life too.  With friends, teammates and family you bond on a certain level.  When the hardships in life hit you, you realize that your teammates or family or friends have been through something oh-so-similar.  That’s why aging sucks.  Eventually that camaraderie will be gone and you will have to rely on only a couple people to get you through the tough times. 

Nobody will ever replace the important figures in your life whether it is athletically or in real life.  But I guess you can make life an awesome adventure by searching for those new people that can fill the void.  I’m not a Gators fan but I definitely see a lot of special things in Tebow.  I can’t wait to find that special girl to marry.  Yet I don’t want to get there in a hurry.


In conclusion, let’s stay off of Facebook and meet people the old fashioned way.  It’s way easier to convey emotions in real life as opposed to cyberspace.  Life is full of many adventures for the positive and negative. 


But I’ll definitely be anxious for either.