Earlier this summer I became a lacrosse fan. I've never actually seen a lacrosse game (I listened on the radio). And don't ask me about the rules. I don't know any of them. I also started watching softball. Baseball I love, but until this summer I had never seen women play fastpitch. Yet I caught almost every game of the Women's College World Series, thanks to the ESPN networks.

How long will my new interests last? That might depend on which teams reach the finals next year. What I really cared about was the word across the front of the jerseys worn by the college women's lacrosse national champions: Northwestern. Now you might be able to guess my sudden interest in softball. Northwestern, my alma mater, lost to Arizona in the national championship series. No matter the sport, I feel a tinge of pride whenever Northwestern athletes succeed.

I may have tuned in for the name on the jerseys, but I stayed gripped by the athletic excellence and mental bravery of the athletes. Fastpitch softball is one impressive sport. A rise ball? Are you kidding me? I could never catch up with the high fastball, let alone a ball that looks like it's coming belt-high and ends up over my head. I'll stick with my co-ed slowpitch league, thank you very much.

Until Northwestern faced Arizona in the championship series, whenever the women in purple needed a big hit, they would crush a home run. This was the pinnacle of their athletic careers, with all the pressure of finality, but it didn't seem to faze them. When my team blew a late lead against 10-time national champion UCLA in the semifinals, I gave up on them. All the Wildcats did was respond with back-to-back home runs to win.

I admit I don't like some women's sports. You still couldn't pay me to ...

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Play Ball
From 2005 to 2007, "Play Ball" examined the relationship of sports and faith: sports is important precisely because it is a form of play, that is, a manifestation of the Sabbath. Contributors included Mark Galli, Collin Hansen, Mark Moring, and others.
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