Rock & Jock: The Portland Mercury Music Issue 

This issue is about a moment and a choice. It's not something we all experience, but for those of us who go through it, it's something we never will forget. It's about music and sports, and the relationship the two share in our lives.

The moment in question usually comes when we are young. The template is laid for most high schoolers who find their way to punk music—and from there, to indierock, Swedish twee, mall emo, or whatever. It usually all starts with punk music, as that is the de facto option for all that quaint teen angst that has been bottled up under what seemed like your parents' unchecked oppressive regime. It's sort of cute in retrospect, suburban teenage punk uprising in all its forms, but at the time, few things in life are more real.

But back to the moment, which usually occurs when you open that door to punk music in all its forms. To accept it in all its glory, you need to properly make that lifestyle change. No one foot in, one foot out bullshit. The walls of your room are the first to go—sports trophies are swapped for LPs, and wall-mounted pennants are traded for those posters you swiped at the record store. The clothes your mom bought you are now gone as well, or at the very least Sharpied beyond recognition with band lyrics. This is the moment in your life where you realize the power of music, how it fits so perfectly within your life, and how there is no going back.

Then there is the choice. At this age, it's basically sports or music. Seldom both. Growing up you are either a Ramones fan or a Lakers fan. Never both. You either follow the careers of obscure British bands via NME, or you read boxscores in The Sporting News. There is no real reason why you can't share, but growing up, when your emotions and choices run so hot and cold, so black and white, it's the only option. You either wear that Letterman jacket and attend pep rallies, or you smoke weed under the bleachers, pontificating about society's ills in the absurd manner of a teenager undergoing their first real flirt with drugs. You participate in P.E., or you frantically forge your parents' signature on a note that explains how poor genetics render you unable to run laps, and you'd best spend the period smoking cloves with the token Goth kid.

Whatever you choose, you have to make that choice. You stick with a life of following sports, and you grow up like your folks. You move to the 'burbs, get fat, and yell at the television every football Sunday—that is, when you aren't taking out that riding mower for a nice lawn trim. Or you choose music. It's the more exciting path, the one your parents don't want you to take. By going this direction, the odds of you dying broke in the gutter exponentially increase, yet you know that the days of talking about Dwight Gooden's fastball are over.

So you have that moment and you make that choice, and next thing you know, you wake up deep in your 20s, 30s, or even later in life, realizing that you could have had it both ways. All of those evenings spent in bars, feeling ashamed at your eyes for being drawn away from your drinks and towards that television in the corner, broadcasting whatever game was on at the time. Of quickly turning off Sports Center when your roommates come home. If they'd walked in on you watching Skinamax, that would be perfectly acceptable—but ESPN? There is no talking your way out of this one: You're busted.

This issue is about that. It's about falling back in love with sports, after living a life dedicated to obsessing about music, and not feeling ashamed about it anymore. It's about trying to find a balance for two forces that have never gotten along particularly well: music and sports.

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