Ahead of the Game: The Sporting Lives - The Explorer: Import

Ahead of the Game: The Sporting Lives

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Posted: Thursday, November 9, 2006 12:00 am | Updated: 7:52 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

November 8, 2006 - I often wonder how she manages to capture the sunlight in her eyes, without the jealousy of the sky. I also wonder why it is you need to tag-up on a pop fly.

On the surface, they appear as random thoughts, but in essence, the two questions aren't so dichotomous. They serve to closer draw together the fine line between love and sports - which is somewhat different than love for sports.

On Saturday, I will watch as ball four sails by me in the baseball game that is love as I take the walk down the aisle to marry Dana: my sporty bride-to-be.

To be married to sports is one thing. To marry your athletic equal is special and more than just her having to put up with me spending my idle time watching the full catalog of sports from archery to women's water polo.

Marriages and sports aren't new to the sportiest of athletes. Nomar Garciaparra and Mia Hamm seem to blend the two nicely. As do Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf.

Alas, ours is a love not won on the ball field, soccer pitch or tennis court - although she's constantly (and unsuccessfully to this point) calling me, my game and my wooden racquet out to challenge her.

It's a mutual adoration romantically tangled with the same passion for a beer and a dog (OK, sometimes veggie burgers) at the ball park, bitingly cold football games and a lover's squabble between who is better: the Yankees or the Red Sox. Go Bombers.

It's a love that's been forged over nachos in arena seats, on barstools on Sundays in the fall and with countless bags of peanuts while sitting behind home plate.

That's not to say the two of us are devoid of athletic prowess.

She graduated from Tempe Marcos De Niza High School a letter-winner in softball, swimming and volleyball - not to mention being a starter on the Fighting Padres' boys soccer team before the school had a girls squad.

Me? I'm a one-trick pony raised on baseball diamonds throughout Northern New Jersey playing for USA teams in Olympic Stadiums in Barcelona and briefly at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J.

Together, I figure, that should be able to get us a few offspring into the ranks of the Major Leagues - preferably as a Yankee catcher.

Before this season we were fixtures in the UA student section for football games - despite having already graduated. We stormed the field together after the Wildcats beat UCLA. I was there to catch her jumping over the railing after we beat Arizona State. I even stayed put after she threatened to kill me if I rushed the basketball court with everyone else after beating Stanford.

I've successfully swayed her from being an Arizona Cardinals fan to a New York Jets fans (one day she'll regret that one) and I am diligently working on converting her loyalties from Red Sox Nation to my beloved Evil Empire.

Still, UA Hoops inability to win a major game is her bane and the constant cause of chewed up nails, objects being thrown in disgust across the room (and at me), and, of course, my favorite and fail-proof wail after every loss: "Why do they do this to me?"

Therefore, I found it was only fitting to propose in the same location as our first dates: the McKale Center. On a beautiful, late-January morning two years ago, I popped the question on one knee in front of the house that Lute Built and, randomly, the UA lacrosse team who were 10-feet away selling programs. To my dismay I didn't get so much as a high five or a "U of A!" chant from any of them after she said yes.

It's long been rumored that rain is good luck on your wedding day. What does it mean if Lute Olson suffers the worst home loss of his 24-year career - a 70-63 debacle against Washington State - on the day you get engaged?

A quick glance around the Northwest and Foothills and I find several examples of how a sports marriage can not only exist, but thrive.

UA women's golf coach Greg Allen and ex-ASU, Olympic-time-qualifying-swimmer-and-Pusch-Ridge-Christian-Academy coach Julie Allen are married. The Oro Valley residents have found harmony in getting hitched. As have local coaches Lance and Kelly Fowler, who have raised their daughters Kenzie and Mattie as two of the premier softball players ever to come out of Southern Arizona (harking back to the future New York Yankee catcher thing).

Do you believe that sports and marriage can survive as one? I do.

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