I was assigned to cover a rugby match last Saturday between two teams of "Old Boys," or people over 35 years old.
After the initial wave of debilitating depression brought on by the revelation that I'm old enough to play senior-citizen rugby wore off, I had another grim realization: I know nothing about sports.
Example: When the Broncos won the Super Bowl earlier this year, I believe, I told everyone at the office how happy I was because baseball is such a wonderful sport.
Confession: I never said that.
True story: I floated the idea of a Broncos-related joke in the office on Saturday. I was met with jeers, boos and, I'm pretty sure, at least one death threat. At least that's how I'm going to remember it.
I get it. This is Colorado. No Broncos jokes. My bad.
The only time I get more angry feedback is when I write a story suggesting that marijuana impairs your ability to drive. It does, but you should read some of the mail I get.
On Friday, I sauntered over to the sports people and asked for a crash course on rugby.
"Dude, I don't know anything about rugby," was the general reply. "Now go away. I'm watching the Rockies."
OK, that didn't happen either. But there are apparently no rugby fans in the vicinity.
I drove to a local bar where the Old Boys were meeting for pints and a few laughs. I don't drink because it's detrimental to Western civilization. It's been 12 long, miserable years and sometimes I just can't stand ... Calm down, John. You can totally do this. Walk in the bar and talk to people.
That turned out to be a mistake. After about five minutes of deciding whether it would count as falling off the wagon if I sucked beer out of the coasters, I fled the bar and watched a street performer hand machetes to a 6-year-old girl. (That last part is actually true!)
I calmed down, dragged my feet back to the bar and spoke to people out front. They were all very nice and helpful. I didn't learn much about rugby other than it offers players camaraderie, singing and violence.
And that's all I needed. This story would write itself. That and knowing what a scrum is.
The following day, I drove to the match.
I watched the game, talked to a few players, almost filled my water bottle with keg beer (Really! Is there anywhere I can go in this state where there isn't beer being served!?) and wrote the story.
As a non-sports guy, I have to say it was fun to watch. As a crime reporter, it was an absolute joy. It's like one big, glorious, outdoor bar brawl. I went to a Colorado Eagles game last winter, and it had a similar effect on me. Sport on ice, felony in the parking lot.
Hockey is definitely my winter game. And I think I just found my summer one.