Team athletes always fall in and out of favor. Growing up in Kansas City, Mo., I cheered for all the typical Chiefs and Royals greats. I also cheered for the San Jose Sharks, only because the IHL's K.C. Blades were affiliated with them. But as soon as any athlete left one of my teams, I lost interest in his career. Unless he went to a rival team, in which case I took an interest in his career becoming an epic failure.
Athletes in individual sports are different. Once you latch on, there's rarely a reason to let go.
Speedskater Bonnie Blair was easy to latch on to.
Chalk it up to an adolescent crush, a need for speed or a common interest in Skippy Peanut Butter; Blair was THE reason I watched the Winter Olympics in 1992 and 1994.
She won four gold medals in those years - five in her Olympic career - in the 500- and 1,000-meter sprints.
My interest in her career reached a high point when, during an interview, she revealed that she ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - my favorite lunch, dinner, breakfast and brunch - before every race.
I was just young enough not to see the corporate dollars behind the line.
"Gosh," I thought. "She really loves Skippy!" Of course I would eat no other brand for weeks after the Olympics.
Blair retired after setting an American record in the 1,000 in 1994, leaving me searching for another individual athlete to cheer for.
I wonder what kind of peanut butter Tiger Woods likes.