I started following the Sacramento Kings at age 12 when my 7th grade math teacher, Mrs. Zlotkowski, assigned a year-long project for each group of students to track the statistics of a single player. I had never followed any sports team before, as I had always been completely inept at any and all athletic pursuits, and I didn't even know the rules of the game (Why are free throws only one point? It seems so much harder than a layup!). I didn't even know who this "Chris Webber" dude was that my teacher wanted my group to track.
But I went with it, and soon found that I had something to talk about with male humans for a change. I could finally "be a man" in my own little way and root for this local team that - surprise surprise - turned out to be pretty damn great for several years there.
So thank you, Mrs. Zlotkowski.
Eleven years later, here I am at a bilingual Episcopal school in Honduras, doing what I can to slog through 6 classes a day with 20-25 middle school-age rich kids who've never heard the word "no" in their lives (not even in Spanish, apparently...). I'm here because I could read the writing on the wall at my last job: I was incompetent at what the boss(es) wanted me to do, and I was in over my head. It was either a case of leaving now because I wanted to, or leaving later because I was told to - and, in this economy, volunteering in Honduras was about all I could find.
I'm not looking for any pity - this is all just the truth, or a truth, and I'm the only one to blame for it. I could have been somewhere else or someone else, but if you skate through enough classes, neglect enough women, and can't carry your weight in the office, it's only a matter of time before you wake up to the sound of roosters crowing somewhere in the ghetto of Puerto Cortes; all I had in front of me today was a guitar on the floor that I could never learn to play, and 6 classes to teach even though the students know they can do whatever they damn well please. That's what happens when the school runs on money from the parents' tuition. Money is power, and I have neither.
You're probably wondering where the Kings fit into all this. It's simple, really: while I've hopped from failure to failure, I've at least been able to count on being a good Kings fan. Whether I'm going to the game, or watching on TV, or following a text play-by-play on Yahoo! Sports, so dutifully will I cheer every rebound, bemoan every turnover, and protest every lousy foul call (even when watching the text play-by-play - "What foul?! I didn't see anything!").
And yes, the last three seasons have been rough. However, they've also been my most redemptive time as a human being. Imagine knowing your whole life that you've always been a quitter; now imagine being this quitter, but still being able to say, I sat through 17-65 and still came out of it a fan. Boo yah. F*** L.A. Bailing on guitar doesn't matter. Bailing on United Natural Foods, Inc. doesn't matter. Hell, bailing on the woman who thought I'd marry her doesn't matter anymore either. I have this team that I've stuck with, regardless of the circumstances, for over a decade now. There's some pride in that.
So I can cheer well. I suck at entering numbers into a computer, I stink at teaching, I was only good enough to keep my head above water in college, and so many friends and loved ones have all come and (understandably) gone by now. In spite of all that, though, I can cheer well, damn it, and that's one thing I got going for me right now. I know it's more than a little pathetic. That's all I have, though - I just want to be a fan again, because it's the one thing I've ever done well, and the only thing I really know how to do.
With this lockout, though, I don't even have that. As long as we're stuck with this work stoppage, I'm focusing on how I can't do anything else; bring it back, and I can start saying again, "Yeah! I can do this!"
Until then, just screw everything.