Growing out of sports culture

    Getting older means interests change — and that’s ok

    Bridget Kelley

    More stories from Bridget Kelley


    Photo by CanStock Photo

    I can appreciate sports, but I just don’t see myself cheering at the TV over a win.

    I grew up in a “sports family,” which isn’t an odd thing in the Midwest. In my hometown, it was far from unusual to go to church on Sunday and see a wave of green and gold Packers jerseys in the communion line. It’s just our culture.

    My siblings and I grew up watching sports on TV, participating in school sports and going to games and matches to watch. My friends in middle school would make plans to go to the high school basketball games as something to do on a weeknight. It was our culture.

    I cheered all four years of high school, for football and basketball, and I loved it. I loved teaching new cheerleaders the ins and outs of the game and what different calls meant for us as cheerleaders and for our players. It was my thing. I went to watch soccer games after cheer practice, and I loved supporting my friends in track and swimming. It was what I did.

    But now, as an adult (sort of), I am not super interested in sports. I will go to a football game or a soccer game with friends, but I don’t just go for the fun of it anymore. I don’t put on the Packers game just to watch. Now, I would much rather read a book or watch something on HGTV if I have the down time — I wouldn’t trek out to Carson Park to support our football team.

    This makes me sad. I don’t want to be growing out of my sports culture. I went home a few weeks ago and was able to attend a high school football game. I missed it so much, but I knew I had moved on.

    Moving on from something that was very important to you as a child is confusing. I am moving on from Monday night football on our living room TV that served as background noise for my homework. Instead, I half-watch a Netflix documentary or listen to lo-fi study beats as my background sounds. I won’t tell you which one is better, but I will tell you which one has fewer whistle noises in it. I digress.

    What I’m trying to say is that I’m growing up, and part of growing up is growing into your own interests. My interests align more with people who drink lots of coffee and watch indie films than with people who only watch ESPN.

    However, I will wholeheartedly root for teams my family tells me we’re fans of and will rub it in my sports-watching friends’ faces when my team wins and their team does not. That’s one part of sports I’ve always liked: winning.

    Another part of sports culture I am not willing to give up are the sports parties. If I had to give up all the Super Bowl party foods, my world would not be as bright. My parents and their friends always have parties for “big” games — whatever that means — and the Super Bowl, and there are always exorbitant amount of delicious food. I’m always going to be a fan of food.

    All-in-all, I am not an avid sports fan, and no profile of me will ever say that unless I have a huge change of heart between now and then. I appreciate sports and I enjoy them, but I don’t go out of my way to watch a game anymore. And that’s okay. I can still enjoy pulled-pork sandwiches and rubbing my team’s win in other people’s faces without wearing a jersey to church on Sunday. I think I’ve found my balance.

    Kelley can be reached at [email protected].