I never intentionally assume the bitter persona of a 30-something single woman — it just kind of happens. And this uncontrollable metamorphosis always occurs on this Hallmark holiday.

Gennaro Filice

You see, we sports fanatics live a relatively straightforward existence. Simply put, it’s like we’re permanently stuck in the fifth grade.

To this day, I don oversized authentic sports jerseys miles from any sporting venue, simulate Jordan-esque dunks on low-hanging store signs and chew bubble gum solely because it’s “Lebron’s Lightning Lemonade.” I live for the back-to-your-roots-street-hockey scene from D2: Mighty Ducks, beg God to favor my squad and make fantasy sports trades that include “a player to be named later.” I bench the video game version of Cliff Robinson when he (not me) takes a bad shot, refuse to ever wash or remove my San Francisco Giants hat (see above picture) and battle insomnia by working my way through memorized starting lineups of Major League Baseball teams.

Like I said, we sports-fanatics are permanently stuck in the fifth grade. While most of us have outgrown the “cooties” syndrome in reference to the ladies, it seems as though the relationship-seeking ladies have developed a similar syndrome in reference to us. Eligible bachelorettes don’t seem very attracted to our obsession. Contrary to conventional sports fanatic thinking, being able to recite, word for word, the exact call of Jason Kidd’s game-winning “pretzel shot” in the opening round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament doesn’t instantly gain you a girlfriend.

Three hundred and sixty four days of the year, I don’t really mind my elementary-school status. While Johnny Girlfriend has to spend his free time taking in the latest DVD set of “Sex and the City” and trying to rationalize the viewing to his boys by claiming that the show is “so ridiculous, it’s funny,” I spend my leisure time guiding the virtual Golden State Warriors to an NBA title. While Johnny Girlfriend shells out extra dough on flowers, teddy bears and green apple martinis, my spare loot goes toward a ticket to the March 25 Pistons-Pacers game (when Indiana will return to Detroit for the first time since the “basketbrawl”).

But every Valentine’s Day, many sports fanatics (including myself) fall victim to a vicious triple play and turn from happy-go-lucky 11-year-old boys to sulky, single 35-year-old women.

It begins with the isolation. After Christmas break, at the outset of the second semester, most students at Michigan are lovin’ the single life, so the sports fanatic fits right in. But somehow, just a month and a half later, everyone is enamored with the 45-minute what-did-you-do-today phone chats … everyone but the sports fanatic. The sports fanatic’s seclusion culminates when he’s not included in his house’s mass exodus to Main Street on the evening of Feb. 14.

Then comes the call from mom. Just after the sports fanatic’s last housemate has exited the front door, that SportsCenter ring tone kicks into tune on the sports fanatic’s cell phone and “Home” flashes across the caller ID. Unfortunately, mom never asks how the sports fanatic’s video game dynasty team is fairing or which player his favorite NFL team will select in April. But rather, mom inquires about the night’s nonexistent “hot date.”

Then, without fail, ESPN ironically delivers the final kick to the sports fanatic’s groin. Whether it comes in the form of a message above a game’s score or a segment that features players wishing their girlfriends/wives a Happy Valentine’s Day, the nation’s leader in sports always puts a Valentine’s Day spin on its coverage the night of Feb. 14. The nauseating part of ESPN’s Happy Valentine’s Day message is that the only people who are watching ESPN at the time are the lonely sports fanatics who obviously don’t have a Valentine and wish to do anything but celebrate the holiday.

By this point in the night, I’m just about ready to break out a quart of Ben and Jerry’s and a box of Kleenex; my Boyz II (wo)Men transformation is complete and senseless, cynical whining ensues:

This holiday’s a joke … Everyone “sold out” on bachelor status … Nice guys always finish last …

After a while, I finally come across a logical thought and just put myself to bed. But REM sleep is always difficult to obtain.

Usually, I have to make my way through the entire National League.


Gennaro Filice can be reached at gfilice@umich.edu.


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