My dad loves basketball, and unfortunately for him, his three daughters are not and were not ballers by any means. I always wondered if he wanted a boy. Not sure his son would have been a baller either, but maybe my imaginary brother would be more interested in the actual sport.
Perhaps it all started in 1995, when I was in seventh grade. One day I got called to the office: the Chicago Bulls were on the phone, congratulating me on winning the poetry contest. I was so excited! The poem I wrote was selected and I was one of the lucky kids that got to meet the Chicago Bulls! Except, I didn’t remember entering a poetry contest.
Cue Tom McGuire, my dad. Unbeknownst to me, he submitted an acrostic poem about the Bulls on my behalf. So really, a 47 year old man won the contest, not a 13 year old girl. My dad did not think the poem would be chosen, so when it was, we both had some guilt around it. I think I had more than him because let’s face it, he wanted to meet Michael Jordan. However, we didn’t meet MJ. We got to watch the second string players warm up, took pictures with the Bulls cardboard cut-outs and sat in the literal last row. I complained so much that we left at half-time.
When I did not make the sophomore basketball team in high school, I cried. Not because I didn’t make it; I cried because I felt bad for my dad. He loved having a reason to go to the games when I was a freshman benchwarmer.
In college, I gained the freshman 15 and when I told my dad I was going to lose weight, he suggested I ask the ILLINI women's basketball coach if I could workout with the team. I personally did not think the coaches of a Big Ten school would want an out of shape, 5’7, chain smoking 19 year old lobbing bounce passes to their exceptionally talented team. However, I do commend my dad for holding on to that hope, that someday one of his daughters would be a basketball player.
But fast forward, 15 years. I’m 35 and I’m performing storytelling and stand up. Guess who attends every single show? My dad. I look back and think maybe he did want a son who played basketball and loves sports or maybe he was just happy to spend time with his daughter, baller or not.