02 June 2016

Epic Battles of Staying Awake to Watch Sports

In fact, it was this exact one!
It started with a transistor radio and an earplug.

Back in the day, we only had one plug to put in one ear. You decided which one. 

You know, when it was funny
Downstairs the Browns are on Monday Night Football playing the Chargers. My dad kept the sound low so up in my bedroom, I would sleep and not crawl out on to the landing to try and listen to Cosell, Gifford and Karras (at that time).

But I had the little radio and the earphone. The problem was the Browns were on WHK-AM, a 5,000 watts station that, at night, did not have the magical properties the 50,000 watt WWWE had.
Huddled against the cold bedroom widow, trying to turn the radio this way and that to hear Gib Shanley through the fuzz and static, I had to keep one ear open to make sure dad wasn’t coming up the stairs.

Yeah, he’d do that occasionally. The thing is, he was a big guy so you could hear the stair creak. So I had a few seconds to stash the radio under the pillow and pretend I was asleep.

You see, my parents were big believers in putting the kids to bed early so they would be rested and ready for school tomorrow so they could relax without us getting in the way.

Shortly before my mom passed, I asked her – why, why why, the 7:30 p.m. bedtime until third grade?
“Because we wanted a break from both of you,” she said.

Right that way up the stairs kids
So when Bob Barker said “good night and hoping all your consequences are happy ones, “that was the time to hit the stairs.

I can remember in May, lying in bed in broad daylight while kids younger than me were playing in the yard next door.

Kids have too much energy to sleep that early. So I would pile my news books under the bed to read until I fell asleep. If I had to, I’d read by night light.

My mom blamed reading by the night light for screwing up my vision which meant money spent in eyeglasses.

Browns vs. Namath in the very first MNF 1970.
Back in the 70s, all the NFL games were on Sunday afternoons except for Monday Night Football, which was as much as ‘show’ as a game. For any team to be showcased in front of a national audience was a big deal. Since the Browns were a mediocre to poor team (like now) they didn’t get many MNF games. 

Kings of the butthurt
In fact Browns fans would get butthurt if their Sunday game wasn’t featured on the MNF halftime roundup. In the typical ‘everyone is against us’ Cleveland mentality, we took it personally. Cleveland takes everything personally.

So when Monday night rolled around and the Browns were on, well, tough luck kid – it’s a school night.

So now that I’m old-er and faced with the prospect of sports I want to watch beginning at 8 p.m. or later (good God, why? Oh, right, West Coast ratings) and tomorrow being a work day (bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 7 a.m.) I wage a titanic struggle to overcome sleep.

I knew last night’s Stanley Cup game was going to be a struggle. I drank coffee all day but that elixir has lost its magic jolt and now I primarily drink it because my doctor said it’s good for my liver.
"I heard Gottschalk actually was thinking of going to bed!"

So I knew what to expect this morning when the opening strains of Roxy Music’s Avalon ‘jolted’ me awake at 5:15. You know the ‘shit, I was right in the middle of a dream/oh my God, I can’t believe I’m this tired’ feeling. 

Work, at least in the morning, will be a bleary-eyed experience, filled with Keurig coffee and head nods. Hopefully by the afternoon, I’ll be out of slumberland.

But of course, it was worth it. Pens up 2-0 and all’s right with the world. If they had lost, I’d be tired AND grouchy. 

At least in adulthood, I don’t have to furtively hide under the covers and sneak the play-by-play past my dad.