Growing up in Dallas, I hated sports. I wore my disdain proudly, like a varsity letter jacket. I believed in arts and culture and binge drinking, and I had no time for the bloated gladiator spectacles that turned Emmitt Smith jerseys and Troy Aikman bobblehead dolls into a cottage industry. It takes a special crankiness to live in Big D and never watch a Cowboys game. Like living in Arizona and shrugging about the Grand Canyon.

But then, after six years in another state, I moved back to Dallas and went to my first Mavs game ever. To my surprise, I was genuinely moved by the community spirit. So much of life in the twenty-first century can be experienced from the folds of your couch, and yet here were thousands of people braving traffic and expensive parking and at least one Kardashian sister to sit in a squeaky arena together and marvel at the human machine.

I began tuning in to the sports radio station the Ticket, and what I heard was not inside-baseball mumbo jumbo but the sound of the city itself, gathering around the watercooler to talk about what matters: Josh Hamilton and Mark Cuban and Tony Romo, yes, but also family and work and the peculiar driftwood that makes up a human day in a Texas town. And who could begrudge anyone for wanting to connect like this? Connection is all I’ve ever wanted.

It’s a minor revelation to appreciate your city for what it is, instead of pouting about what it is not. Dallas is one of the country’s great sports towns. You can fight that, and I’d understand. But I’ve decided to be a better sport about it.