Ode to my plush green couch

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Over spring break, my Instagram feed was a dangerous thing to look at — I saw friends sipping wine on the Amalfi Coast, riding camels in Morocco, exploring the ocean in Cabo San Lucas and watching breathtaking sunsets in Prague.

Still, I’m pretty sure I had the best break.

I didn’t do anything fancy, and I didn’t go anywhere special. In fact, I’m pretty sure I spent about 70 percent of my break on the couch. To be completely honest, I even slept there a couple of nights. But while my friends explored the planet, I rediscovered one of my greatest passions — sports.

You’d think I’d get my fill of them, being the sports editor here at the paper and all. But I fall victim to the Berkeley problem of getting overwhelmed by all that’s going on. And as much as I love sports, it’s often really, really difficult to find time to watch a sport for fun, especially when it feels like a midterm or paper is lurking every single week.

But the reason I originally got into sports journalism was because sports are my passion. And in my time plopped down on our plush green couch over break, I reignited that passion.

With the remote in my hand — my eyes dared anyone to try to take it from me — I would flip back and forth between about six sports channels. I sat entranced watching the men’s and women’s tennis at Indian Wells, wishing my two favorite players, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal, had made it to the finals, but enjoying the quick pace, beautiful rallies and incredible shots nonetheless.

My dad convinced my skeptical sister and me to watch wrestling because someone was going for his fourth individual NCAA championships, a feat that had only been accomplished three times. And while the guy won his title pretty easily, wrestling introduced me to my future best friend. After Iowa State’s Kyven Gadson won an NCAA title with a quick pin, an ESPN reporter asked him for some deep thoughts about what it felt like to win. His answer? “I just want some ice cream, man.” Truer words have never been spoken.

I went back to my soccer roots and watched numerous English Premier League games (go, Gunners) and national friendlies such as the U.S.’s loss to Denmark — what the heck happened to the defense? — and the faceoff between Brazil and France. I lamented the fact that the uber-talented (and even more handsome) Olivier Giroud wasn’t starting. Ugh.

I fell in love with Chicago Cubs can’t-miss prospect Kris Bryant and his swing, and I remembered why I thought earlier this season that Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry should be the hands-down MVP.

And the sport that I did for 12 years, horse jumping, was actually on TV. I got to feel like an expert, talking to myself about getting good distances to a jump and about why a horse hit a rail. Watching Mclain Ward, Beezie Madden and Meredith Beerbaum — my childhood heroes — reminded me why I love the sport so much. After a time, I realized I was moving my body all over the place, acting as though I were the rider trying to position the horse just right to clear the big fences. My dad caught me clucking at the horses, too, as though they could hear me through the TV at an event that had been recorded earlier in the week. I hadn’t had that much fun in a while.

And, of course, who could forget March Madness? Holy guacamole! The excitement and drama there was better than anything the Kardashian clan could come up with — sports truly makes for the best reality TV, with real-life good guys and bad guys. This year, with a dad who went to Michigan State as an undergraduate, it’s been an absolute blast to get behind the team. Plus, as a girl born Feb. 14, I can totally get behind a team with a star named Valentine. Of course, evil Kentucky is still in the running (please don’t hate me, Grandpa), and I’m just begging for someone to beat the Wildcats.

Sports make me happy. And this semester, I’ve missed that. I’ve missed having the luxury to relax and watch the “Not Top 10” or hear about sports I don’t usually watch, such as NASCAR and even curling. (It grows on you. Honest.)

After my sports binge, I came back to Berkeley happier and reinvigorated, and that’s worth more to me than sipping fancy champagne in even fancier locales. I’d rather experience a real-life Valentine and a wrestler who says to bring on the ice cream.

Shannon Carroll is the sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @scarroll43.

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