I like to think people are grouped into two camps at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
STRINGER’s COLUMN from Thanksgiving 2015 >>
There are those who argue over the turkey legs and pile their plate high with that succulent dark meat.
Then there are the white meat purists.
Me? I fall into the latter camp. My mom didn’t buy the whole turkey when we were growing up. She already had enough on her plate, so dealing with the neck and giblets was swapped out for roasting a big ol’ turkey breast.
It’s a tradition I’ve segued into adulthood, one that I’m carrying out today as I cook for eight people.
But amid these two camps, it can be argued there’s another fan club at the table. One that everybody belongs to.
I’m talking about those who love gravy, of course. L-O-V-E ... LOVE.
A good buttery roux, fresh turkey drippings, some kitchen bouquet and healthy dose of salt and fresh ground pepper ... pour that liquid gold over the plate and just let the fixings soak it up and disappear under the brown, velvety thickness.
I’m talking mashed potatoes, dressing, casseroles, rolls, even the deviled eggs. Everything tastes better with gravy.
So where am I going with this tangent, which you’d think would be better resigned for the food page?
Well, I’d like to think sports is the gravy of life.
There are so many divisive things in the world — war, politics, money, socioeconomic status, religion, race relations ... even trivial things like whether you’re a dog or cat person, a white or dark meat connoisseur.
Sports, I believe, offer up a common ground. Sports have a way of uniting people.
A busboy with nary a penny in the bank can sit with a captain of industry at a local watering hole and celebrate their team ... equals in that moment. An atheist and Christian can set aside religious differences and unite in their March Madness rooting interest.
A black woman from the rural roads of North Carolina can celebrate a Duke basketball national championship basketball title alongside a privileged white man from the city. So too can an immigrant chasing the American dream alongside a trust-fund baby predestined for success.
Athletes certainly can’t be boxed into a stereotype, and the same applies to their fans.
Do sports solve life’s problems? Heck no. But, for the most part, they have a way of briefly sidelining life’s troubles — even if it’s just for nine innings, two halves, four quarters, three periods, 18 holes, a set at a time.
On Thanksgiving when we’re asked to go around the table and reel off something we’re thankful for, I’m reminded of why I do what I do.
The Emerald Coast is one of the richest pockets of prep talent in the country, full of state champions and standouts headed to premier Division I colleges. It also houses, in my opinion, the best Juco program in the country in NWF State.
Everyday I get to throw on a button-up, some chinos and my press pass and lug my laptop into some gym, pitch, ballpark or stadium. It’s the best job in the world.
I’m a fan of sports ... the gravy of life. Now pass the white meat.
This column originally ran in the Nov. 24, 2016 edition of the Northwest Florida Daily News.