No more sports, but I'll take another pancake

8:18 PM, Apr. 4, 2014  |  Comments
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From what I understand, there's a big basketball game tonight. At least that's what I've heard. Wisconsin is playing in the Final Four.

Sure, I'm happy for the state. I comprehend the importance of the game. (Hey, I was at UW-Platteville, as editor of the campus paper, when coach Bo Ryan's teams there made impressive runs at the D3 level.)

But to be honest, I don't understand basketball or follow it at all. That's because there's simply no room in my life for another sport.

One sport is about all I can handle. And that is actually one more than I ever anticipated following. Decades ago, I figured I could live quite contentedly without sports. I didn't yearn to be a fan. There was no empty hole in my life needing fulfillment, even with the excitement of Bo Ryan on campus.

But, moving from Platteville to within a stone's throw of Green Bay changed everything. My close proximity to the Packers caused "extreme football awareness." So, today, not only do I understand that sport, I comprehend all the hoopla around it from office pools to fantasy leagues. I even coach youth flag football.

That takes up a lot of my free time. There are the weekly games during the season, but that's just scratching the surface. True football fans pay attention to college games and players, There are off-season moves to keep up with, the draft and summer training camp.

There's really no time left for basketball. Therefore, I don't have the first clue about "brackets" or March Madness - or how colleges teams get themselves into the madness in the first place. Or how brackets are created and bet upon.

(In fact, there's some ambiguity - even for those who pay attention - as to how teams get into the tournament. I've learned it may not be an exact science.)

Even though I'm watching from a distance, I certainly hope Wisconsin does well. I hope coach Bo Ryan wins a championship. I may even bother to watch the game.

Clearly, I'm not anti-basketball, but boundaries needed to be set in my life. Since I'm not a sports reporter, who lives and dies by all the games people play, logistically I couldn't load up on more on any more. Football became the line in the sand. This much, and no more.

That's because I have to eat, raise kids and make a living. After that's done, and I've read all the NFL stories in the sports section, there's no time left.

I'll root for Wisconsin. And then, I can turn my attention to football. Happy days will be here again.


Speaking of happy, my father made potato pancakes last weekend. And that makes me very happy.

My German born-and-raised father grew up on potato pancakes, and he, in turn, made them for my brother and me when we grew up. I have memories of special potato pancake mornings. Actually, it seemed to be an all-day event, especially when you took into account the considerable cleanup required.

Because of the laborious nature of the effort, they have been a very rare occurrence.

They became even more rare as the years wore on. So much so, I often joked that his grandchildren would never know the taste of a true German potato pancake.

He would say, "Maybe next week." Or, he would get slightly enthused about the idea, but not have the ingredients. We suspected it was all a delaying ploy.

But all that changed last weekend when we arrived at my folks' place. The kitchen was prepped for the advancing storm. The ingredients were ready. It seemed it was really going to happen.

And so it did.

Turns out it wasn't as hard as we all remembered (thanks in part to a novel technique he learned from German friends that involves using a vegetable juicer to shred the potatoes.)

As we sat and ate, he poured batter and flipped. They were as wonderful as I remembered them. And his grandkids finally got to taste their inherited culture.

I admit, I threatened to write about the lack of potato pancakes in my weekly Advocate column. But the column can also serve as wonderful positive reinforcement (with hopes of a repeat pancake performance.) So, thanks, Dad! You did great!

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
579 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
862 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
1025 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
1279 votes

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Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports