Three years in the same office and it’s come down to three school days.
When I first walked in to the Nexus about three years ago, it took me until this Tuesday afternoon to notice the smell. It’s always been there, hovering around in the stuffy air, growing on the musky charm of media guides and seeping behind crumpled posters of perfectly chiseled athletes long past their primes. Sitting on the Sports Throne, the best seat in Santa Barbara, it finally hit a nerve: This place isn’t going to be mine for much longer.
That old-newspaper smell clings on my fingerprints like blood on a butcher’s apron. Reading and writing sports is my junk. I’ll always crave for it. Fill my veins with charcoal black ink letters and several shots of metaphors and I’m hooked. This is the calling for a sports junkie, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So what is it about sports? Why is it important to people? Why take time out of your day to read about the colossus who can put a tiny ball through a basket with a steady amount of success? Or about the woman who can maneuver a Dallara-Chevrolet at jarring speeds with the ease of someone making a right turn on a local street?
Why sports? Why not arranging flowers?
A Gatorade commercial has been making the rounds on television lately. The narrator asks what drives athletes. The answers varied from tradition to the look on the other opponent’s face to making one’s own legacy on the sport. Those things might be what drive people, but what is the initial spark of sports? It’s the people.
Last Friday afternoon while I wandered the upper level of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, I soon struck up a conversation with a guard, Ken Tisdale. We were talking about jazz – he plays the bass and the electric bass – and soon he starts telling me about how his cousin has put out four records. Could it be? I had to ask, “Your cousin used to play basketball, right?”
Ken’s cousin, Wayman Tisdale, played with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns for 12 seasons, from 1985 to 1997. Tisdale averaged 15.3 points per game while playing in 840 regular season games and scored 40 points on three different games. Wayman still writes music today, Ken said, while taking care of his mother in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Just by casually talking with someone, I found a connection through sports. What do sports matter if they do not involve the public? Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, two distinct and historic baseball stadiums, have intrigued fans across the country for years. But I’d rather have a beer with a worker who helped plant the ivy on Wrigley’s famous outfield wall or share a joke with the guy who helped put up the Green Monster in Fenway. A place is only interesting because of the people who help build, occupy, experience or live it.
Looking past the fading newspapers sprawled across this office under Storke Tower, I’ll remember the people in Santa Barbara. Here is a thanks, in no particular order, to the folks who helped make the last three years wonderful. Thank you Bill Mahoney, Marty Wilson, David Campbell, David Downs, Cory Anthony, Matt Heitner, Mike Long, Matt Faust, Keith Busam, Ben Alkaly, Jeff Bowers, Bob Williams, Mark Amaral, Matt Stock, J.J. Todd, B.J. Ward, Adama Ndiaye, Mike Vukovich, Paul Stumpf, Marisa Lagos, Jen Siverts, Shaun McGrady, Ted Andersen, J.E. Anderson, Drew Mackie, Jason La, Danny Ameer, Henry Sarria, Steven “Legend” Ruszczycky, DJ Fatkid, Bryan DeSena, Jessica Jardine, Chris Trenchard, Harry Berezin, Oskar Garcia, Danny MacLeith, Alexi Lykissas, Truc Bui and Brent Slonecker. To everyone I’ve forgotten sitting at this computer, thank you too.
Thank you, everyone, and take care.