sports blog by andy shenk

Devout Fanatic

In Musings, Xavier on March 9, 2012 at 12:39 AM

Loyalty is appealing. Have you heard of the Enneagram? The Enneagram is similar to the Myers-Briggs Test: both attempt to categorize and describe personality types. My personality type, according to the Enneagram, can best be summed up with one word: Loyal. Upon taking the Enneagram test, I discovered that I loved tradition, following the rules, and, more frighteningly, rigid belief systems. Looking back, I can see evidence of these personality traits early on in my childhood. At age seven I was the only one in my family of eight to vote that my older brother be stripped of dessert for one night because he hadn’t made his bed. Those were the rules, for crying out loud! My brother’s feelings be damned, rules are rules.

My junior year of high school I took the Myers-Briggs test and came out an ISTJ. The result thrilled me because that personality type is praised for making the best husband. At the time, I was one insecure sixteen year-old, but the news that I was predicted to be a devoted, loyal, loving husband made me forget my insecurities (one of which, ironically, was that I’d never get married) and glory in my loyal personality.

More recently, my renegade older sister has decided to tamper with family tradition by eschewing the holy rite of seasoning stovetop popcorn with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. She now douses it in Sriracha Hot Sauce or peppers it with cumin. Oh, and don’t remind me that my parents preceded, and, perhaps, foreshadowed her blasphemy by a few years when they began substituting generic Great Value Seasoned Salt for Lawry’s in order to save a few pennies.

While I enjoy the smell of popcorn popping, vegetable oil cooking, and the imminent crunch of salty, seasoned kernels in my mouth, I’ll get to the point. Sports bring out my loyalty, my passion for fidelity, most easily. Rooting for one team and sticking with them until “death do us part” gives me joy. My dad helped, no doubt, when he decreed that sports loyalties must be finalized by age ten. I chose the Cincinnati Reds, Xavier University men’s basketball, and the San Antonio Spurs. Then, in order to be consistent, I picked a favorite in every other sport known to me at the time: for all eternity my allegiances were now also wed to Tiger Woods, Jeff Gordon, the Columbus Crew, Colorado Avalanche, Miami Dolphins, and Andre Agassi.

The popcorn is popped, most of it messily devoured. The evening’s spent and my wife and I need to begin preparing psychologically for Xavier’s Atlantic 10 conference championship quarterfinal match-up with Dayton tomorrow night. We’ll blow on the lucky rock whistle emblazoned with a bold, blue “X” my younger brother made for us in New Zealand last fall, wear the Xavier T-shirts my wife bought for my birthday last year, and pray for a victory and the chance for Xavier to play again on Saturday afternoon.

Xavier University Musketeers vs. University of Dayton Flyers, Atlantic 10 Conference Championship Quarterfinals

Friday, March 9, 2012. 9 PM ET. Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ.


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