Writing: Divided loyalties

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I like sports. Football, baseball top the list, but I admit to as much World Cup fever (at least while the USA was in it) as the next guy. But being a sports fan here in Arizona, especially in a community where most of us are transplants from somewhere else, poses certain challenges.

Take football. As a transplanted New Yorker, I’m a diehard New York Giants fan. All it takes is one look into my closet to see everything from a NY cap, a team fleece, various T-shirts all the way down to “big blue” nylon gym shorts. End of story, right? Well not quite.

You see, since my move out here to the desert and desperate to read any football news out here I’ve developed quite a significant fondness for the Arizona Cardinals.

That wasn’t really that hard, because whereas in the newspapers out here a Giants game is relegated to only a box score or if I’m lucky maybe a one paragraph synopsis of the action. Compare that to the Cardinals, where as the only NFL team in the state, they command three, four pages of wall-to-wall news, photos, charts and analysis.

Following the Giants on TV is even harder. Out here on the almost west coast seeing the “G-Men” is not exactly a lock every week. But if you’re willing to do some traveling you can make it happen. And in my case I have two choices. I can head over to the Ironwood bar where they have the NFL package.

Or my other option is to head up to Mesa to visit with my fellow transplanted New Yorker buddy who has the football package. Problem there is he likes the Jets, so we can’t even agree which Big Apple team to root for which frequently means watching his team, my team and the Cardinals too on three TV’s.

But don’t forget that we’re in a different time zone here in the “dry heat” state. That means that the early 1:00 game back on the east coast, at least at the beginning of the season, is actually coming on at 10:00 a.m. here in Sun Lakes.

So I’m either knocking on my pal’s door with coffee and bagels in my pajamas or I’m trying to keep a straight face when I show up at a bar for Pete’s sake at that early a time to watch a game.

Then once inside the bar you have to find what “cluster” you actually belong to. Bears fans over by the window, Bronco enthusiasts in the middle and you can always tell the rabid Packer fans by that green and yellow. If you belly up to the bar you can probably get to watch your hometown team and go cross-eyed at the same time as well by seeing the Cards on competing screens.

But I digress … just since I’ve been living down in Arizona the Cardinals have moved into a new stadium, went to the Super Bowl, fell back to earth with some forgettable seasons and going into this schedule showing a good coach, a good group of players and the tools to make it to the top again.

So with getting to know more and more about this team I found myself rooting for my “second” team more and more and found my wardrobe expanding to now include a Redbirds hat and Cardinals shirts. Family and friends would laugh at me when I wore Cardinals gear for the early game only to switch before the nightcap into my Giant blue.

But I finally realized that I had a pigskin split personality and divided loyalties when I attended a game the last time the Giants came to Phoenix. I was already torn, so I went with a Giants shirt and a Cardinal cap. I posed with the cheerleaders for a picture beforehand and when the camera snapped they had covered my Giant logo with their pom-poms. Touchdown to the cheerleaders, but once the game started I found myself unbelievably rooting for both sides and I was confusing even myself.

Then the guy in front of me finally turned to me and pointed to my red Cardinal hat and my blue Giants shirt and said, “Dude, what’s the deal?” I replied, “Look at it this way, either way I walk out of here a winner!”