When I moved to Texas, nearly 1,000 miles from home, I had two intentions: to get away from a small town and to make a dream that was inspired by the relationship with my dad to come true.
That dream was to become a reporter for the Dallas Cowboys, which isn’t the craziest thing to chase in the grand scheme of things. But that’s all I wanted. I wanted, and still do, wish to become a sideline reporter, a writer or something for a football team I committed myself to when I was 12. All because it was the bridge between my dad and me bonding.
I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I came around and became a Dallas fan — and a big one too. A loss meant my day was going to be spent in my bed rewatching games and calling my own plays. A win meant lots of screaming and high fives then eating Sunday pasta dinner peacefully. (And let me just note, when they ruled Dez [Bryant] didn’t catch it, I cried for a good two hours.)
I cleared off every Sunday to sit with my dad in the living room to watch our game together. Through that, I began to understand, that as much as I loved watching the game and how invested I was to see my team win, I loved the time I got to spend bonding with my dad more.
It wasn’t just my dad either. I would go to school and smack-talk with the other seventh-grade boys about whose Super Bowl year it was. I began noticing that my interest in men tackling one another for a ball was my connection to forming relationships.
I was making friends with people I would have never talked to before unless it was for sports. One thing would escalate to another, and I found myself having best friends I would go to for anything — all because of one commonality.
I saw myself using a common interest to my advantage. One of those advantages was proving my intelligence.
For example, one day I was at a journalism conference in Dallas my senior year. I was at a sports writing section and seated between two boys. The boys talked on both sides of me about something along the lines of Jason Witten’s stats. Imagine their surprise when I threw out facts about his career and records. The fact that they were dumbfounded to the point to ask me, “You know what we were talking about?” was flattering to say the least.
After that, I established, yes, I know what I’m talking about.
Now, I notice when people see my passion behind what I’m doing. It draws them in to know more. I’m approached weekly about being a sports writer and what brought me to it.
The thing is, it’s simple. It’s the human connection. The easiest way to bond with someone is through a common interest, and for me, sports is the simplest way to find that middle ground with someone.
I understood how much watching a football game can influence someone when I saw that tying my dad and I much closer together and setting aside time to be in each others presence. So here I am, ten years later, still chasing that feeling of bringing people together.