BWW Blog: Michael Raabe - Confessions of a Sports Loving Theatre Nerd
March Madness is already underway and you don't know who Gonzaga is playing.
When did Gonzaga audition? Why didn't I get notice of auditions? Kansas? What does Kansas have to do with Gonzaga? Is Shakespeare involved? I am so confused.
Don't feel alone. For the record: March Madness is not a play, Gonzaga is not another actor getting the role you wanted, and Kansas is not just for Dorothy any more.
I am often asked what I am going to be doing in-between shows. No rehearsals, no tech week and no performances must allow me the luxury of seeing other shows at other theaters, flying to NYC for new shows, or bingeing on the latest It show that is so hot within the arts community. I admit that I do none of those things in the few spare moments I have. I have a different way of spending my weekends. I have a secret that sets me apart from a lot of the theater community. This "secret" has made me a bit of an outsider within the Houston theater community, and has provided ample material for my friends when we are bantering at get-togethers. "Have you heard about Michael Raabe?" one will giggle, and "I know, can you believe it?" is a typical response. I am very comfortable with being the odd-man-out when it comes to the artistic community. My friends know, my family knows (although some do not like it, are not comfortable with it and probably won't admit it). So I might as well admit it:
I am a sports fanatic.
There, I said it. Man that feels good. Like a rock lifted from my shoulders.
I have spent over 40 years being the only (or nearly only) gay actor in any social circle who actually watches, follows and cares about a variety of sports. It is like wearing a scarlet A on my chest. Other actors don't get it, neither do directors. Writers get it, but have little time to spend on anything but their craft, so I am usually the only one in the green room who cares about the draft, the trades, the playoffs or the status of the home team's star players at the start of any given season. I take a lot of grief on the topic. People are floored that someone who can spend four weeks in a dress and 5" heels can discuss football, baseball and (God forbid) NASCAR with interest and confidence.
There is a general consensus in the theater community that jocks and their admirers are less intellectual and cultured than those within the arts. Heck, I have made those same generalizations in many crowds. Listening to the crowd mentality of a major sporting event will always show the lowest common denominator of society. Rarely do you ever hear of brawls breaking out in a theater event (although I have been tempted more than once). Odd: Maybe it is me!
I think there is an ever-growing segment of society that finds it more comfortable to move within different circles and activities. You can see baseball caps at an opera. You can see transgender individuals at a tractor pull. It is happening in greater numbers, and for those of us that have always been okay at both events it is a refreshing change.
I have heard the rude comments about the man in overalls attending his daughter's first play. I have heard the sexist, racist and homophobic comments of season ticket holders at Reliant Stadium and Minute Maid Park. Maybe it reflects how fractured society has become. But maybe, just maybe, it reflects the first ripples of unification, and despite the initial discomfort we can look forward to a more well-rounded society. I think the arts community, which is a rather cultured and intellectual group should be the ones to initiate this trend.
I will go first:
My name is Michael and I am a sports fan.