I received a lot of fun response from my column in the Saturday Oklahoman about the maternal instincts of some Thunder fans. How basketball players connect with the public, particularly some women who might not be die-hard sports fans but become die-hard fans of Kevin and Russell and James and “our boys.”
Here's a sampling:
John: “Reminds me of my wife screaming at the ump when they called a balk on our son. I asked her what a balk is. She said she didn't know except our son wouldn't do it. Keep telling us what balks are.”
Now that was funny. And John is right. Most fans are emotionally involved with their team. But when they become emotionally and personally involved, sometimes rational thought takes a holiday.
Leslie: “Hey Berry! You hit the nail on the head. I am a mother of five, whose first three were girls and never cared about sports until my sons came along. Now I'm playing catch-up trying to learn. Still don't know much.
“But your column was so insightful because it got really heated around my house during the playoffs when daddy and the boys started criticizing various aspects of the Thunder players' games. As a mother of two hard-working, aspiring athletes, I kept saying, ‘knock it off guys, that's some mama's baby you're dissin'!' To no avail.
“Told my 14-year-old son the other day that ‘I love Kevin because he has restored mamas back to their rightful position in sports!'”
You know, Wanda Pratt is no small part of this story. Durant's treatment of his mother most definitely hits home with many.
Don, a loyal reader from Hooker, defended my use of the word “snot:” “In the Panhandle, it was also used to help explain how cold it was. 'Slicker'n snot on a brass doorknob.' Maybe a bit too graphic for some of your new lady friends.”
The use of the word snot really did make my point. I didn't think twice about saying the Heat beat the snot out of the Thunder. But the maternal-minded saw it differently.
Kathy, who partially inspired the original column, wrote back after I used part of her email in my column: “My goodness, but you don't seem able to do proper research, either! Imagine my surprise to read that, according to you, the word 'snot' is 'an old '70s term.' Which millennium? The word dates to the 1300s, Middle English or a little later, 1400s (Middle German, Dutch, Danish.....). And (sigh) I must object to the patronizing tone and tenor of your response to your female readers. We are not all 'Aunt Bees!' Are men's viewpoints somehow more to your liking? And what does that say about your objectivity once again, hmmmm? Ah, but I fear we continue to beat that dead horse, now, do we not? No matter, I believe you are too set in your prejudices to bother with additional debate. In any case, I shall retire, and leave the field to you, so you may rave on as you please. Today you have proven my point. Do you even realize that you have?”
I don't know what Kathy's point was, but if my point was that Kathy was anything like Aunt Bee, I apologize. No one that insufferable ever stepped foot in the hamlet of Mayberry.
Of course, Kathy had company, even from men. Doug: “I do have to agree with Kathy. Like most people in the Oklahoma City area, we simply think your an idiot. I'm sorry but every time I read your column, or heaven forbid watch your one-minute clips, I want to rip my hair out. As do most people when they read or watch trash. And that's exactly what you write.”
Here's what's beautiful about Doug's email. I received it around 8 p.m. Friday. So the office put my column online Friday evening, several hours before it went to press, which has become standard. So some guy who claims to think I'm an idiot, but admits to even watching my videos, reads my column on a summer Friday night, perhaps via Google alert or my Twitter account.
But back to more light-hearted fare. Randy: “So, I'm a guy sitting here with fresh ground coffee and breakfast, laughing out loud at your article. Who knew? Wife of 42 years is much bigger fan of the boys than me, but I never heard her complain about your stuff. Anyway, really entertaining article. As always, you are the best. You big snot.”
Hey, watch your language.
Coleen: “You want me to go punch Kathy?”
No. No violence, please. But here's what's rich about Coleen's email. I've been crossways with her before. She was a big Jason White fan. Back in 2001, when I suggested Nate Hybl should win their first QB derby, Coleen wasn't too smitten with me. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she was right.
Another female reader, Carole: “I loved your 'our boys' column - it is SO TRUE! Exactly what I've been thinking and feeling. Russell, James, Kevin, Serge - those are my kids! I totally love them and think of them like they are MINE. Perk, Nick (my favorite in the player category) and Derek (whom I liked for years and hope somehow will stay), those are the guys/men of the Thunder. And Thabo, well, Thabo…him I just lust after. Yesterday morning at work we were having our weekly team meeting and the guys were sitting there talking about trades to 'enhance' the Thunder. I was like 'HOW can you guys talk like this? This is our family, they are each other's family.' It truly broke my heart. The guys were like 'so?'”
Wait ‘til the payroll cap starts forcing people's hands.
Tom: “I'm thinking you sportswriters never thought about a bunch of women getting mad at you for writing tough critiques on the Thunder and the team. Coach Brooks better not let these women hear him in the locker room after a loss. Or him and the other coaches when they review game film and every play of a game that a Thunder player messed up. I'm sure they don't use 'snot' but rather another word that begins and ends with the same letters.”
Interesting point. Scotty Brooks doesn't do much railing on his troops. What if the Thunder had a yeller as coach? Might not go over too well.
Katy: “After reading your column, I have a few observations. As a woman who grew up with all brothers and then raised all boys, I have been a sports fan all of my life. I had my own subscription to Sport Illustrated as a single girl out of college and read every issue. Now, my kids are grown and moved out. I still read the sports page, watch Sports Center & PTI.
“Most of my female friends (1) have no interest in sports, (2) have a casual interest in sports, often dictated by what the husband/boyfriend is following, or (3) have interest only in what their children are involved in. It is more than extremely rare to find a female who actually enjoys watching a college or pro football game just because it's football. Even more rare to find a female who knows offsides from a false start. These rare qualities apply to basketball, baseball, golf, or just about any sport dominated by male participation.
“So, just like a woman, I'm finally getting to the point. My guess is that most of the motherly Thunder fans you are hearing from are new to NBA basketball. They are in it for the personal attachments to specific players. They probably have no interest in matchups nor recognize zone or man-to-man. They are not truly sports fans. They are personality fans. They do not read Sports Illustrated but would read an NBA version of People Magazine. And that percentage might surprise us both.”
Let me clear the air a little. What Katy says is true, about new-to-the-game Thunder fans. But not all of them are women. There are some new Thunder male fans that are slow to figuring out this NBA stuff. The difference is, there's little maternal instinct there. The maternal side - the “our boys” - is a female phenomenon.
Carol: “What a fun article. You nailed it. Those are our boys. Most of us 'Thunder Grans' didn't care anything about the NBA. In fact, we thought they were all a bunch of thugs until Chris Paul arrived in town. Now, we want to have them all over for Sunday dinner! You covered the subject very well. The only thing you forgot to mention is how much we would like to be represented at the exit interviews.
“You know, kind of like sending our boys off to summer camp. We need an opportunity to remind them to stay out of night clubs, read a good book, go to church, get lots of rest, and ignore those 'groupie' girls who, well, you know.”
Uh, Carol, the Thunder does have a decent group of guys. But your illusions will be shattered if you really want them to stay out of clubs and stay away from girls.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.