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Vidakovich column: Not good-bye, just so long for now

The truth be told, I have never been much of a fan of watching Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune on television. My passion is not with game shows in general, although in younger years I used to get quite a chuckle out of watching those goofy people waving their arms and running out of control down the aisle toward the stage when their name was called at random on The Price is Right.

My mom, on the other hand, rarely missed an evening of viewing her game shows following the nightly news. For more years than can be counted, I stopped by her house, mostly to mooch a good meal, and watched with her as Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak put their astute contestants through the rigors.

It depended entirely on the season, but following the conclusion of her nightly game show fix, my mom would tune into whatever NBA basketball game could be picked up. If the Utah Jazz were on, that’s where the channel went. I had no say so in the matter, especially during the years when her all-time favorite, John Stockton, was directing the Jazz offense from the point guard position.



Mom really got fired up when Utah would face the Denver Nuggets. She was not a big fan of the Denver professional basketball team and was quick to let everyone know it. Her heart was broken this past fall when the Nuggets beat Utah in the abbreviated NBA playoffs. I’m not sure she ever got over that one.

During summer evenings, when Todd Helton was manning first base for the Rockies, we watched together in the hope that this would be the year when Colorado would put it all together and beat those pesky Dodgers. Of course, the Rockies could never beat the boys from LA, and they still can’t, but mom liked watching Helton and rooted for him with every swing of the bat.



When Helton hung up the spikes in retirement and I informed her that I liked bearded and long-haired Rockies’ outfielder Charlie Blackmon, her only comment was, “Someone needs to hand that boy a razor and a pair of scissors!”

She was never a Denver Broncos fan or much for the sport of football in general. I don’t believe mom cared at all for the team during the Shanahan/Elway era. Her favorite team each week was whoever the Broncos were playing. I pretty much was in the same boat with my attitude toward the orange and blue at the time, so we made for good viewing companions on fall Sunday afternoons.

If we were between sports seasons, a good episode of Gunsmoke or The Virginian was on her TV menu. I watched so many westerns through the years with mom that Matt Dillon and Festus have become two of my heroes in life.

Mom’s biggest sports passion by far was when her two sons coached the boys and girls basketball teams at Glenwood High School during the 1990s. She and my father rarely missed a home game in those days. Both teams were pretty good and the gym was usually filled with fans and excitement.

My dad had a penchant for giving his unsolicited opinion to referees, opposing players and coaches in a very loud way, so mom would keep her distance from him and sit at the top of the bleachers with local barber Pete Urban, who was a family friend. They both calmly and quietly watched the game, munched on some popcorn, and rooted for the Demons. The outcome of the contest was important to her, you can bet on that, but not as important as the pride she felt watching her boys guide the Demons.

My brother and I always knew she was up in those bleachers watching, so it was of the utmost importance to make sure we gave our best effort, and that the kids did also. She expected it.

I haven’t watched Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune for a long time now. I just don’t have much heart for it anymore. It’s hard to blame me since Alex Trebek is gone, and so is my mom.

Forget about LeBron James and the guys from Tinsel Town, I’m picking the Jazz to win the NBA championship this spring. Their biggest fan is now in a very high place where I know she is giving an earful to anyone who can pull some celestial strings to help bring a title to Salt Lake City.

It’s in the bag for Utah, mom. No need to worry or be nervous.

You just rest now. See you again down the road.

Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at postindependent.com


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