I don’t really like sports, and if it ever seems like I do, I’m probably just pretending in the hopes that there will be nachos. The same goes for M. This little guy’s interests range from pretending he’s back from the dead to drawing comic strips featuring his favourite YouTube stars. Sports have never been my thing, or his. Maybe that’s why we get along so well.
On Saturday however, my dad, the only man in a house of four women, asked me to go to the Winnipeg Blue Bomber game with him. As my list of things I would rather be doing flashed before my eyes, I remembered how many chick flicks, Taylor Swift concerts and violin recitals he has sat through in his time for me. I also realized that it was the perfect opportunity to do something new with M. So we picked up tickets, picked up M, and were on our way to the football game.
When we sat down in our cold, plastic seats, I thought I’d start by explaining some football basics to M.
“So the blue and gold guys are the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the green guys, they’re uh… Those guys are… Hey Dad, who are the green guys?”
We were off to a poor start.
The green guys were the Edmonton Eskimos, I soon discovered, and they were kind of kicking our butts. It was 3-0 for Edmonton but I wasn’t really surprised. The Bombers have become notorious for well, bombing.
The boys stepped their game up quickly though, and the Bombers led 7-6 by the second quarter. M knew how to be a sports fan, yelling support basically anytime one of the players starting running.
“He go Becca, look! He going!”
At halftime, M and I went to buy some overpriced junk food. I came back with a hotdog and fries and he with a bag of popcorn twice the size of his head. He ate most of it himself, the exceptions being the pieces he forcefully stuffed in my mouth for fun.
The second half of the game was the most riveting. If you would like a summary of the game from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about, I’ve included an article by veteran Winnipeg sports reporter, Judy Owen below.
I had come to the game expecting only to take some photos and savour the October sun, but with only a minute left in the fourth quarter, I was literally on my toes. Winnipeg was leading 23-21. They were going to do it. Bomber fans were screaming. I was screaming. It was the most excitement I’d felt for a sport in a long time, but M was sitting with his head in his hands. He glared at me.
Autistic people often have heightened sensory sensitivity. Basically, they are more sensitive to loud noises, strong smells, bright colours, and extreme temperatures than the average person. M is especially sensitive to loud noises. It’s for this same reason that he sometimes would become angry with me at daycare when the other children got too noisy, or when a movie began loudly and startled him. M rarely acts scared or saddened by noise. He typically just gets really, really mad. Today was no exception.
Professor of Animal Science, Temple Grandin, who also lives with Autism, explains Sensory Sensitivity in Autistic children on this FAQ page: Sensory Over-Sensitivity
I sat down and hugged him, telling him to cheer. They were going to win!
“No, Becca. Say no. Stop it, say no.” he barked at me.
He took his thumb and flipped it upside-down in one swift movement right in front of my face. It was a bold statement for an eight-year-old, I suppose.
The game didn’t quiet down. The Bombers were leading all the way up to the last few seconds and people were ecstatic. M stayed sulking. Then, the crowd fell silent. I didn’t know what had happened, but people were leaving. M and I both looked around the stadium, stunned.
My dad informed me, the oblivious faux fan, that Edmonton had scored a field goal just as time ran out, bringing the final score to 24-23 for the Eskimos.
We packed up and filed out of the stadium alongside the silent, straight-faced Bomber fans. The mood in the stadium had fallen somber in a matter of seconds. M, on the other hand, was thrilled to be leaving.
“We go Toys R Us now, Becca?” he said with a smile. M may have spent some time pouting, but he always comes around.