Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is from Pittsburgh. Apparently it’s the law that if you were born and raised in Pittsburgh, you must be a Steeler fan. I understand this. I was raised in Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, there are two laws. First, you must cheer for the Packers and second, you must always have a beer at the ready. Cheese is optional despite the moniker of cheesehead thrown onto the Wisconsinites, although if you’ve never eaten dairy fresh cheese curds, you really haven’t lived. For those unfamiliar with dairy fresh cheese curds, these cheese curds are wet and should squeak as you bite into them. No lie. Squeakiness is the key.
When Pittsburgh and Green Bay were headed for the Super Bowl, Sarah suggested a friendly wager. I repeatedly said that I was fine with this so long as I didn’t have to shave my head if I lost. You may have heard. The Packers won and thus, here is Sarah’s (AWESOME) payment in our wager: a sonnet written to the winning team:
The Steelers’ Superbowl has lost its drive
The underdog has failed to show its teeth
A score of thirty-one to twenty-five
Gives many happy cheeseheads much relief*
A Pittsburgh Steelers fan I’ve always been
Bound to the team at birth and childhood
But even I admit, with loser’s pain,
The game produced the result that it should.
The Steelers lineup has some fine heroes
And Polamalu’s Twitchange eases sting
Of knowing number seven’s a zero
Ben played like he did not deserve a ring.**
Packers bring home Lombardi and Renoir -
I toast your team of most deserving stars.
*unless you are lactose intolerant, in which case, the opposite is true.
** and he didn’t.
The Green Bay Packers win twas expected
So many fine heroes to make one stare
I speak honestly as one dejected,
The only place they fall short is the hair.
Clay Matthews has the flowing golden locks
But Polamalu’s hair would be my choice.
Yet Packers’ D was perfect in their blocks
And Rodgers’ play gave reasons to rejoice.
I understand their popularity
Packer appeal’s not mystery or bunk:
They’ve shareholders, fiscal transparency -
And Rodgers never texts pics of his junk.
Should hair and heart and drive create that play
I’m glad Lombardi heads home to Green Bay.
Honestly? I felt more nervous as the game approached. Everyone was picking the Packers. I HATE being the favorite. Hate it. Packers were doomed. They weren’t. Apparently they were the team of destiny and truly if there was ever a guy that deserved a Super Bowl, it would be Donald Driver.
Driver left the game after the first half but he’s been a favorite of mine since he first started playing for the Packers. He’s an averaged sized receiver at a little under six feet and weighing in around 190 pounds. He was drafted in the 7th round, the 213th pick in 1999. Like many young men in the NFL, Donald came from difficult background. As a teen, he lived out of the back of a Uhaul and on the street at times, his family evicted from their home due to unpaid debts. He promised his younger brothers that he would pull them out of poverty and when given the opportunity to play in the NFL, Driver fulfilled that promise by becoming one of the best receivers on the Packers team and now one of the best receivers on a World Champion team.
Driver isn’t a flashy player. He isn’t a deep threat like Jennings but he’s a steady receiver with great hands and a enormous personal drive to succeed. I’ll never forget the first in depth interview I saw of Driver, choked up about his past, his familial obligations, and his big big heart. Driver has never forgotten where he came from and gives generously of his time and his pocketbook to help homeless mothers all over provide a safe environment for their children. He’s a true hero and a man I take pleasure in cheering for every Sunday. Congratulations, Donald. Congratulations, Packers.
I think one of the reasons I love sports books so much is partly why people like historical Regency books so much. There is built in drama and innate tension to the setup. The characters in these books are larger than life. These pro athletes are gifted and can do things most normal individuals cannot. It is a game, but it takes serious dedication, mental toughness, and well, true grit to succeed. Isn’t that some of what we look for in romance heroes – that larger than life aspect; that unwavering determination to complete a task?
One of my favorite sports books of all times is Deirdre Martin’s Body Check. Martin has a new book out this month, Icebreaker, that brings us back to the hockey arena for the first time in several books. In both books, Martin brings us inside the locker room, a foreign place if there ever was one. Sure, I’ve seen locker room scenes having the NFL channel but I doubt I’ll ever really know what goes on inside there so Martin’s creations are kind of the next best thing for a fan like me (and I’m not even a hockey fan!).
I’m always looking for a good sports romance. I enjoy the SEP series and the Rachel Gibson books (her heroes have become less assholic but I even enjoyed Sam in the May release Any Man of Mine and he really is a jerk). And, of course, how can I mention sports books without bringing up Mick Riley of Jaci Burton’s The Perfect Play.
My affection for the athlete hero runs deep. I look for three things in a sports book: a knowledge of the game expressed through the story; a believable, driven hero; and strong heroine to temper the hero. If I can get at least one locker room (inspirational speech included), I am a happy girl.
Do you love/hate the sports romance? Have any recommendations for me? Surprised at how well Sarah can write a sonnet? Particularly about the Packers? I mean, the inclusion of Polamalu should get points in and of itself. (and it is so true, Polamalu’s hair is so much better than Matthews).