Sports has always been a part of my life. I can't remember a time when there wasn’t a football or baseball being thrown around, a ball game to watch on TV or listen to on the radio. I come from a Purdue family, so the Boilermakers were the college team of choice. My dad was from the Chicago suburbs and he was a White Sox fan, although I grew up a Cubs fan. Every fall, I rode the highs and lows of the Chicago Bears (mostly lows). The first time I picked up a camera, it was because I wanted to be a sports photographer. When I started writing, it was about sports. Covering sports was my job for more than 20 years. Now that I’m out of the newspaper business, I have more opportunities to just be a fan. I used to read and watch everything as part of my work. Today, I can be more selective and watch just what I want, and write about what I want. These are my teams, and you can read about my fan stories.
I went there. My sister went there. My mother and father went there. A grandfather went there. A great-grandfather went there. You get the idea. I love Purdue and the Boilermakers, no matter how many times the football and basketball teams have broken my heart — and there have been a lot. I remain ever grateful, ever true, and when Purdue plays, you can be sure that I will Boiler Up.
I was five years old, and it didn’t matter that the Bears were one of the worst teams in the NFL. I sat with my dad and watched the games, at least until the time when his yelling reached the point where my mom didn’t want to hear it anymore and sent him to the garage to watch the rest of the game on the small black-and-white TV out there. I love Walter, and the '85 Bears were just about as much fun as anyone could have.
In the blink of an eye, the meaning of being a Cubs’ fan changed. When Anthony Rizzo squeezed the throw from Kris Bryant to close out the 2016 World Series championship, Chicago’s North Side team ended a century of being baseball’s lovable losers. They never won anything for all of my first 52 years and another half-century before that. Wrigley Field is still a treasure, and we'll always have Ryno.
When I was still a student at Purdue, road trips to Chicago were common. Most times, it was to see the Cubs or the White Sox. But other times, we would run up to the old Chicago Stadium to see the Bulls or the Blackhawks. The old arena shook and you wondered whether it would hold up, especially during hockey games. We saw Michael in his early NBA days before th Bulls got really good and we couldn't afford to go anymore.
Before the Purdue Alumni Association barges through my door and takes away my PAA card, I must say that for a good part of my life, I’ve been a Notre Dame hater. It comes with the territory when you grow up in family of Boilermakers. But I married into a family with Notre Dame season tickets. I can't fully get behind the Irish, but I appreciate going to Notre Dame Stadium with its history, and tailgating each week is a blast.
I started playing golf in middle school, but didn't really become a golf fan until much later. I enjoyed the British Open and the Masters, and have been lucky enough to attend both. I also got to be inside the ropes working as a volunteer at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, which gave me another up-close look at the game. Now I watch a lot more and appreciate the great skill on display. And, of course, Tiger.