Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sports — An Irrational Love Affair

Monday night saw the family unit in the basement playing with little hockey sticks shooting a ball toward a little hockey net. 

After a couple of minutes I got thinking, I can't wait to see the boy playing professional hockey one day. 

You see, if I'd started skating at an earlier age, I'd have been an excellent hockey player. But, I didn't put on a pair of skates until I was 11 years old, sounds young but by that point, it's too late — no matter if you've got hands like Mario and vision like Wayne.

Pictured: my peers.
And, if I'd just had a bit more discipline, I'd have been a fantastic basketball player. I made it past first cut in JV ball but, I was young and I didn't want to wake up for the 7 a.m. practices my high school team demanded. But if I did, welp, I would have been really good. Not Michael Jordan good, maybe just Steve Nash good. 

Football? Forget about it. I could have played for a college team but, I was just never that interested. 

Yes sir, these the perfect explanations for why my career in athletics never got off the ground. 

But, thank God I've got a son (AKA a chance to live out my unrealized dreams through someone else).

The boy? He'll get it right. He'll achieve the athletic stardom that fate cruelly denied me — I'll see to it. 

In fact, I've already started. 

First, I spend an inordinate amount of time reading, watching, thinking and talking about sports. This is a great place to start indoctrinating teaching the boy. 

He'll see me doing these things and he too will learn that, while sports might seem entirely inconsequential, he's wrong.

He'll notice how I gravitate toward a particular player because he's overcome incredible odds to achieve what he's achieved. Then, within  a matter of months, he'll see me go hoarse cheering against that player because he now wears a different colored jersey. 
This guy was the U.S. President the last time the Leafs
won — or went to — a Stanley Cup final.

He might think this is nonsensical but he'll come around. I'll see to it. 

He'll hear me talk of "Fantasy League" and like me — and 28 million other people — he'll ignore the word "fantasy" and treat it like a life or death proposition. He'll understand that, because daddy paid $25 to join a fantasy league, it justifies his spending 30 hours a week managing his lineup and scouring the "waiver wire." 

He'll look at the time I spend doing all of these things (time I could spend fixing the house, the car, or learning a new skill) and he'll know that sports must really, really matter. 

He'll watch as his dad talks with other grown ups about matters of great importance like the Packers "shoring up their secondary" and the Leafs fixing their "penalty kill" and he'll soon know. I'll see to it. 

Just like I did when I was a kid, he'll take part in the annual family tradition of ignoring the outside world twice a year when Carolina plays Duke. He'll see how, in the days leading up to these two games that while daddy says he's happy and "looking forward" to them, he looks tense.

And, just like I did, he'll watch his father live and die with each trip down the court, summoning every ounce of his will to suppress an eruption of swear words that would make angels question the existence of a god. 

He'll never see anything like this — at least until the Leafs make the playoffs. 
They got my money and my early 20's, the same things they took from
both my brothers, my father, two uncles and my grandfather.
In return we got an education and a psychosis.

And, if the Leafs do make the playoffs, he'll hear daddy talk about 1967, about Dion Phaneuf and about trades — lots and lots of trades. 

As he grows, he'll adopt a few of my teams. Maybe he'll cheer for a rival just to get under my skin, like his mother does. But, unlike his mother, he'll come around. 

Sure, he'll understand when people say things like "sports is a business just like any other" but he'll disregard this fact and he'll root for the corporation daddy roots for. 

He'll see me wearing T-shirts, hats, and jerseys bearing the logos of sports teams and he'll notice that daddy dresses him in clothes with some of the same logos. 

Later this winter, when daddy ignores the fact that he's just two-and-a-half years old and puts him on skates at the local outdoor rink, he'll ignore the frigid, Wisconsin air, the discomfort, the bumps and the bruises. 

Like daddy, he'll suspend his adherence to logic. He'll forget his Duplo blocks, his books, the Little Einsteins, and see that sports are worth it. 

I'll see to it. 

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