#MoreThanAGame: A New Series of Personal Sports Stories by Women

Today we launched a fresh, new, weekly newsletter for female sports fans called The Relish. (To sign up, visit us at TheRelish.com. To learn more about why, read this.)

To celebrate our very own Opening Day, we present #MoreThanAGame — a series of personal sports stories from women of all ages.

As I mentioned in an earlier post: The way I enjoy sports is not necessarily the same way that most fans enjoy sports. And when I say most fans, I really mean mostly male fans. I don’t savor stats. I don’t religiously follow every day of baseball season. I don’t know the last time a no-hitter was pitched west of the Mississippi when the barometer was dropping. I do, however, respect the traditions … understand the nuances … and seek out the goosebump-inducing narratives that sports provide.

I know there are more of us out there. Lots of us. And I thought the best way to show sports through the lens of the female fan was to ask women to share moments in their lives when sports meant more than just a game to them.

  • It could have been the moment she became a sports fan — as a kid, or as a college student at her first football game, or when her child started playing soccer.
  • Or sports as the backdrop of an important relationship in her life.
  • Maybe it was a big play she made as a kid — and that fueled the love.
  • Maybe it’s the story of getting her first job in sports.
  • Or the time her husband went to the World Cup in Brazil when she was 37 weeks pregnant, and she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Turns out everyone has a sports story — even those who didn’t think that they did.

Here’s my story: My love affair with sports started as a kid, when I first walked into Three Rivers Stadium, holding my dad’s hand and gazing at the greenest grass I have ever seen. It was the first time, at age 7, that I realized what “larger than life” meant.

When Willie Stargell and Dave Parker swung that bat or leaped to catch an impossible line drive far over their heads, I felt I was witnessing something incredible. Magic, in fact. I also felt that I was one with all fans around me, like we were all in this together. I noticed every detail: The smell of hot dogs. The way the peanut guy threw bags to fans in the stands. The cheers and clap patterns that everyone seemed to know. I paid close attention to the rituals of the game: Having my dad teach me how to mark a ground-rule double on the scorecard. Getting the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box, back when the prizes were good. Feeling the butterflies in my stomach, nervous my team might not win. These moments stay with you. These moments undoubtedly caused my lifelong love affair with sports.

That’s me in the middle with my eyes closed. Also starring my sister Christa (left), my brother David (right) along with the Hulk as Mean Joe Greene, Sylvester the Cat as Lynn Swann, and Captain Caveman as Terry Bradshaw.

These days, I love the all-day rituals of Sundays during football season. I get choked up on Opening Day in April. I keep all of my old ticket stubs in my treasure box. I have been known to spend a perfectly sunny day in a dark and dank Sports Book in Vegas. Every New York summer, as I’m on the 7 train heading out to Flushing Meadows, I get as excited to see the tennis stars of the U.S. Open as I am to see Beyoncé at Citi Field.

Watching sports is still magical to me. It’s the only experience these days where no one can spoil the ending for you. No one has downloaded it before you. No one has a bootleg copy. No one knows how the game is going to turn out, because it ain’t over’til it’s over. And there’s always that chance that you’ll witness history. Even watching games at home, with family and friends gathered around, breathlessly waiting to see who wins and who loses — to me, this is real reality TV. There are very few true mysteries left in life these days. The only ones I can think of are love and sports …

So sit back and let us share with you some love stories — stories from other female fans, who feel that following sports has more to do than just with stats and scores, and everything to do with a deep connection to family, friends and the world around you.

If you like what you’re reading, follow the #MoreThanAGame series on Medium. We’ll be rolling out new stories every day.

If you’d like to contribute, submit your story to us at hello@therelish.com and we’ll consider publishing you via Medium @ The Relish.

Erica Boeke is the co-founder and Chief Content Officer of The Relish — a fresh new weekly newsletter for female sports fans. Although she was born in Chicago and lives in New York, Erica bleeds black and gold and plans to name her first-born child Franco Harris-Boeke. She interviewed for her first job as a writer for the SF Giants in the dugout at Candlestick Park, wearing a parka, of course. Erica co-wrote GameFace, a book for women who love pro sports, and is currently working on her next book about the summer she and her dad ushered for a minor league baseball team. She takes her hot dog with ketchup and onions (sorry Chicagoland). Her walk-up song is “Baby, I’m a Star,” because she’s still mourning Prince. Note: Her at-bat song changes daily.

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