The Fly Route
I went to a concert last week. This would hardly seem like news for a 24-year old, and it by no means would seem fitting for a small town's sports page.
It was though -- somehow. Hang in there.
See, I don't go to many concerts. I used to be able to count them all on one hand, and I still can now that I've stopped counting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "Coming Out of Their Shells" tour (turns out the guys in the big foam turtle suits were actually lip syncing. Talk about a letdown.)
Still, I went to one last week -- the Dropkick Murphys, in a Westport bar in Kansas City, Mo.
The Dropkick Murphys are a punk-rock Irish band from Boston. They sing a lot about the Red Sox and have made a few movie soundtracks, most notably "Fever Pitch" and "The Departed."
They sing about some stuff I easily grasp -- partying with friends, meeting women in bars and watching sports -- and some stuff I don't -- life in the factory, living in the inner city and being a blue-collar worker. And they do it all with easy-to-love music, invigorating rhythms and sing-a-long lyrics that make it hard not to join in the shouting.
Simply put, I really, really like listening to them. They're a pick up when I'm tired and something to nod to when I'm already ramped up.
Some songs are funny, some are a bit raunchy, but they're nearly all fun.
When I heard they were coming to Kansas City for a pre-St. Patrick's Day swing across the country, skipping the concert was not an option. I had to go. So I enlisted a few of my best friends -- both of whom I'd long ago converted into fans -- and we went.
I can't say we were surprised when we opened the door, but we couldn't help but laugh as we compared ourselves to the other fans in attendance.
It was a sea of Mohawks, tattoos and piercings. I'm not sure how good of a look you've ever gotten of me on the sideline, but I don't have a Mohawk or a single piercing, and you'll just have to take my word that I don't have any tattoos either.
It wasn't our crowd. It looked like a group of people I'd typically fear might beat me with a chain, the kind whom you wonder where on earth they could possibly work other than a tattoo parlor.
Of course we stayed, and the concert was awesome -- way better than those turtles and even better than the still-embarrassed-to-admit-I-went Red White and Boom featuring Enrique Iglesias. We jumped around and pushed to the front, and at the end, they let everyone up front on the stage for the last couple songs.
Like I said, it was awesome, even if the songs weren't all about me, and neither the band or the crowd were very much like me.
So, how's this all tie in to sports?
There's so much pressure on our high school kids to devote 12 months every year to every sport. It's literally impossible for any kid to play in an offseason league for each of the school year's three seasons, and it's impossible for many kids to find the time to play in even one.
Nevertheless, the pressure is there. We paint it as if the only way a kid can get a scholarship is to dedicate his or her life to a sport -- as if the only way the team can improve is if the whole squad works out every day all offseason and attends every camp within 500 miles.
We paint it as if the kids who don't follow those rules don't love their sport or their team.
Sometimes you don't have to dedicate your life to something to love it, however.
You don't need piercings or a crazy haircut to be a Dropkick Murphy fan and you don't always need fanatical devotion to be a great high schooler.