There was a time when I loved the Bobby McFerrin song 'Don't Worry, Be Happy.' I'd walk around singing it. I'd call radio stations and beg them to play it. I'd watch MTV hoping they'd play the video. Seeing that crazy guy dance while at the same time helping me realize that I shouldn't worry, but instead be happy, despite losing my job, my girlfriend or whatever tragedy that may have befallen me.
I was also a HUGE fan of both grape and orange soda. Loved the stuff. Wanted it every time I walked past a soda machine or went shopping with mom. The fact that neither tasted like the fruit they claimed to be named after didn't matter. It only heightened the desire to consume such a beverage. It was a conundrum. It was named after a fruit, so it must be healthy, and yet I was told I couldn't have very much because it would rot my teeth out. It wasn't until years later I learned it was all a marketing ploy to get kids like me to drink sodas like that. I'd been duped by clever marketers.
Despite liking all these things when I was seven or eight, my tastes have been refined (though I still enjoy a Sunkist every once in a while). I no longer wake up on Saturday mornings hoping to watch Muppet Babies. I don't have 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' on my iPod and I can't remember the last time I had grape soda (though, in an odd way, writing about it makes want to go get one.)
It was also around this age when I started to watch baseball. Because they were on television in the afternoon and I could watch their games (more specifically, the end of the games), I became a fan of the Chicago Cubs. Little did I know this decision would be one go on to affect my life more than any decision made by an eight-year old should.
How can such an important decision be expected to be made at such a young age? The emotional consequences of choosing the wrong team can have serious long-term consequences. Every April for the past 23 years, I've looked forward to the Cubs season, thinking (sometimes rationally, often irrationally) that this would be the year they broke their now century-long curse of not winning the World Series. Every October (often September, and sometimes, even August), I've lived with the consequences of that fateful decision.
So I'm proposing a sports counselor to help kids decide when the time is right to choose a favorite team. There's no reason for someone to rush into a decision when they're not prepared to handle the consequences. They could have their heart broken, ripped out, trampled on and no one would have warned them that this was possible. Or worse, they could make a decision that has repercussions for life. It could cause them to become so depressed or overwhelmed that they drop out of school to try to deal with the consequences of their impulsive decision. Don't you think there are Viking fans or Browns fans or Indians fans who wish someone had told them of the heartbreak they would likely experience.
If you know of kids who are getting close to the age where they start asking questions or may be thinking about picking a favorite team, be sure you take the time to talk to them. Explain to them the consequences of them making this decision before they're ready. They're so young and I'd hate to see them throw away their future by making a decision they could grow to regret every October (or January, or June, depending on what sport they go with.) Together, we can prevent tragedy.