Posts Tagged ‘high school sports’

Superfans

Posted: November 28, 2012 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

On Tuesday afternoon my parents made the two-hour drive from Janesville to Fulda to watch my 7th-grade niece’s basketball game. After that they made the short drive to Worthington to watch my uncle coach his women’s college basketball team. They saw my niece lose, my uncle win and then made the two-hour drive back home.

The thing is, they would have made that same drive even if they’d only gone to watch my niece play. Four hours of driving for 30 minutes of basketball, more turnovers than points.

There are people in Minnesota with more kids and grandkids who have seen more high school and college sports than my mom and dad and those people have also driven more miles. But when it comes to the percentage of games they’ve seen for family members, Pat and Cees Fury might be tops in the state.

It’s something of an illness.

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Minnesota is the state of hockey, at least according to the marketing folks. High school hockey, in particular, has always reigned in Minnesota. But neither of those two sentences are completely accurate. Hockey rules in the Twin Cities and it rules in northern Minnesota. But in southern Minnesota, where I grew up? It’s basketball country.

This week is the 100th state tournament in Minnesota boys basketball. For a long time – when it was just a fabled one-class tournament – there was no bigger event in the state. Crowds packed Williams Arena. By the time I played for Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, it had long been a two-class system, and since 1997 it’s been four classes. The old-timers thought two classes were ridiculous and the next generation thought the same of four. The tourneys are bigger now, but the crowds are smaller.

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Last week I spent much of my time in the passenger seat of my parents’ car, riding around on the surprisingly snow-free roads in southern Minnesota, on the way to a variety of basketball gyms and arenas.

Anytime I take a trip back home during the winter, it’s guaranteed that I’ll spend at least a dozen hours in wooden bleachers or plastic seats watching all levels of basketball, from good college teams to bad junior high teams. I’ll watch girls who can shoot from 25 feet and men who can’t make a layup from five feet. When I’m not traveling in the car, I’ll be at my parents’ house, watching television. Watching NBA basketball. Talking college basketball. For the Fury family, winter wasn’t about ice-fishing. There were no snowmobile trips or outings to the ski slopes. It was hoops season. As a kid, I even shot all through the winter months and not in our school gym. I’d don on a big coat, a stocking cap and a pair of what I called my “shooting gloves,” ones that weren’t as thick as a normal glove and gave me a better chance of gripping the ball. I’d shovel off the court at the Janesville city park or in front of our neighbor’s garage. It wasn’t a good time to work on dribbling, but you can shoot in any weather. If all games took place in 10-degree weather with scattered flurries and a brisk wind, I’d now be in my 15th season in the NBA.

I didn’t shoot outside on this trip home. But only because I no longer own a good pair of shooting gloves. Instead I now spend my time back home consuming basketball, not playing it. Here then, some notes from a week in the stands and on the couch.

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