I've never been able to get around the fact that the sports I like most are the sports I watched and played as a kid. Those sports are football, basketball, boxing and baseball.
Baseball was No. 1 when i was growing up. It's dropped to No. 4, now. And it has nothing to do with rampant steroid use, lax drug policies or Roger Clemens.
I've learned to appreciate sports I was not exposed to as a kid. One of them is racing. Anybody that claims drivers aren't athletes has never watched a race sober.
Hockey I've struggled with. Even though I grew up in a city in which hockey was hugely popular, I never really learned to skate. I played boot hockey, but that was mainly knocking each other around, and because I could run, leading forays on the goal.
Most of the Catholic school kids played basketball. Most of the public school kids played hockey. They were on the rink. We were in the school gym. When one of my younger brothers transferred from Catholic to public school -- it was the public school in our district -- he put down the ball and picked up a stick.
So I don't know hockey. I admit it. But despite my lack of insight, I had a blast Tuesday night at the Charlotte Checkers game. The game was fast, with lots of big hits and cool goals. The fans are dedicated. Nobody went to Charlotte Bobcats Arena that night to be seen to to see Jessica Simpson. They know the sport and their players.
The athletes seemed to have a contest to see who could be the least pretentious. The locker room is full of young, upbeat players hoping to get promoted and, in the meantime, playing the game they love.
Nathan Gillies, a good all-around player who rents space in the penalty box, is my new favorite athlete.
It's easy to forget that there's a lot of stuff out there, in and out of sports, that many of us ignore. It's simply not part of our routine. I hope to make the Checkers part of mine.
What sport did you never understand when you were younger that you embrace now? Or what sport do you suggest I embrace? Let me know in the comments.