Friday, March 4, 2011

A parent's guide to parenting (Sports Fan Edition)

Note: This is the final installment of my three-part sports week blogs. A hat tip to Josh Burnham for the idea for today’s topic.

There isn’t an extremely long list of things I want for my son. This is where longtime readers expect me to launch into an extremely long list of things I want for my son. But not day, readers. Not today. Nay, I shall not give you want you expect from me at all times. I’m not your dancing monkey (something my son doesn’t want) here to amuse you. I’m just a blogger who is here to amuse you.

The short list of things I want are for him to be healthy, be happy in life and to be a sports fan. And I’m not talking about a casual sports fan. I mean the kind like in this ESPNRadio commercial. Now there’s only so much I can do about the first two. Having a mom who has two degrees in exercise science will help with the healthy part. Having an award-winning humorist (it was a really down year for humor writing in small Georgia newspapers) as a dad may or may not help with the second part. But the sports fan part, that I may be able to influence. In fact, the process of brainwashing . . . err . . . raising a sports fan has already begun.

A friend of mine’s first daughter was born five days before the Super Bowl, meaning they went home from the hospital just a few days before the game. Most people would take that time to be together as a family and get adjusted to having a new life living in their house. But not my friend. He hosted the Super Bowl party at his house. That’s dedication. The kind of dedication it takes to raise a sports fan. Sure, you’re trying to figure out the whole parenting thing, but you’ve got the rest of their lives to figure that out. The game isn’t going to wait.

Not ideal, but I'd take it.
While I didn’t go that far, it’s only because I didn’t have the option. My son was born in October, during Game Two of the World Series to be exact. Yes, I turned the game on in the hospital and I now realize that allowing him to hear the voice of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver at such an early age will be the root cause of any issues he faces later in life. I did attempt to rectify the situation by having him in the room for part of the Texas Tech upset of Texas, but I fear the damage may have already been done.

Continued exposure to sports, I think, is key to keeping the excitement developed shortly after birth. At five months old, he went to his first baseball game (and also got his first foul ball, thanks to some guy in the stands. You didn't really think he caught it himself, did you?). At six months, he went to his first spring football game. Thanks to ESPN, he saw sports on television nearly all the time and was soon able to identify baseball from basketball from soccer from tennis. Granted, to do that, it meant I had to spend large amounts of time watching those sports. Like really large amounts. Like he didn't know Sesame Street existed until he was almost two. But that’s a sacrifice I was willing to make.
Add in a healthy dose of Wii sports to show how fun it can be to play sports and, at least for me, you’ve got a two-and-a-half year old who is excited when he sees sports on television or gets to go to a game.

Maybe my kid will
have his own cereal
Another friend of mine found famous athletes who shared a birthday with his daughters and got them excited about sports through that method. For my kid, we've got Canadian Football League Hall-of-Famer and Flutie Flakes namesake Doug Flutie, Heisman Trophy namesake John Heisman and soccer legend Pele'. I was hoping for a baseball star, but as far as sharing birthdays go, that's not a bad list.

Granted, there are some precautions that I’ve learned to take. One is not to yell “GOOOAAAALLLLL” during soccer games because, for some reason, my kid thought I was yelling at him and would start to cry. At least, I think that’s what it was. It’s equally probable that, as an 18-month old, he was upset about the team he was cheering for giving up a goal. It also helps to sit in places not near other spectators when you go to games. Amazingly, kids don’t seem to have the attention span to sit through a three hour baseball game and some grumpy old dude who is scoring the game doesn't take kindly to having to pick up sippy cups that rolled under his feet every 10 minutes.

Besides, the more time he’s watching sports, the less time there is for Elmo.

Next Song: Walk On
Artist: U2 


josh said...

My three favorite parts of this post were, in order:
1. The ESPN radio commercial.
2. When you made your kid cry by yelling "GOOOAAAALLLLL"
3. The part when you mentioned my name. (

josh said...

ps- Flutie Flakes were a close fourth, but finished just outside the medals.