The Sports

I like sports.  I love sports.  Playing, watching, listening to radio broadcasts, whatever.  I played organized baseball and hockey from the time I was 6 through high school.  Then in college I moved on to softball and less competitive men's league hockey.  Around the age of 12 I also started playing golf.  I still skate, but after a couple of major knee surgeries I've unfortunately had to "retire" from hockey and probably won't play softball again either.  After moving to Minnesota, the frequency of my golf outings has decreased dramatically (I've probably averaged 2 rounds per year over the last 8 years), but I still like to play.  As a matter of fact, last spring a few buddies and I and went to Myrtle Beach for a golf weekend and had so much fun we decided to make it an annual event.  Alas, the second annual trip, originally scheduled for this June, has been canceled due to to job schedule conflicts (sigh).

Sports buff that I am, I was thrilled when the boy was born, thinking about all the fun times we might have together at various sporting events (obviously I was also thrilled to have someone to eventually take over my household chores, vehicle maintenance, tax preparation, etc.).  Just like the countless high school, college, and professional games I attended over the years with my dad - scrimmages; regular season games; playoff games; the NHL All-Star Game; Eastern Michigan football games (mostly losses); baseball games at Tiger Stadium, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field; hockey games at the Olympia, Joe Louis Arena, and Boston Garden; Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome (I still can't believe Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre the Giant!!).  All of the dateless Saturday nights in high school watching Hockey Night in Canada on TV together.  Not to mention all of the games he watched me play, including those during his many years as my baseball coach.

So now the boy is at the age where he can watch sports with me and understand what's happening.  I've "encouraged" him to root for Michigan State (over the objections of the wife, whose siblings all attended the University of Michigan).  And I'm happy to report that he's definitely a State fan, although his indoctrination hasn't been overly difficult based on the performances of the two universities' athletic teams over the last few seasons.  The deciding factor may have been our attending the Spartans' exciting basketball victory over USC at the Metrodome during last year's run to the national championship game.

In addition to watching games, the wife and I are giving the boy opportunities to play various sports to see which ones he enjoys.  So far he has taken swimming and ice skating lessons and played in a kindergarten floor hockey league.  Next week he starts indoor soccer and this spring it will be tee ball.  If his skating skills develop, he should be ready for hockey next fall.  Regardless of whether or not he plays in a league, I'm planning to build a rink like this one in our back yard.  While I really hope he takes to hockey and will be at least a bit disappointed if he doesn't, I'm not going to force him.  It's up to the boy to decide in which sports he'd like to participate long term, if any.  I'm not going to raise another "Bred To Be A Superstar" Todd Marinovich:
He has never eaten a Big Mac or an Oreo or a Ding Dong. When he went to birthday parties as a kid, he would take his own cake and ice cream to avoid sugar and refined white flour. He would eat homemade catsup, prepared with honey. He did consume beef but not the kind injected with hormones. He ate only unprocessed dairy products. He teethed on frozen kidney. When Todd was one month old, Marv was already working on his son's physical conditioning. He stretched his hamstrings. Pushups were next. Marv invented a game in which Todd would try to lift a medicine ball onto a kitchen counter. Marv also put him on a balance beam. Both activities grew easier when Todd learned to walk. There was a football in Todd's crib from day one. "Not a real NFL ball," says Marv. "That would be sick; it was a stuffed ball."
I could never imagine saying this 20 years ago, but I won't even mind if he ends up being a soccer player.  My dislike for the sport was established during my time working for the city recreation department when I was in high school and college (which, for the record, is the best job I ever had or ever will have).  One of our responsibilities was to chalk the athletic fields, and just between you and me, I made the straightest lines out of the entire crew - no string necessary.  Chalking baseball fields is one thing.  However, soccer fields are another animal altogether.  Because they're so big, the chalker must be refilled several times to line an entire field.  It's great when your buddy is following you around with the truck to provide additional limestone.  It's a major pain in the ass when you're on your own - chalk until chalker is empty, walk back to truck, drive truck to chalker, fill up chalker, chalk until chalker is empty, walk back to truck, drive truck to chalker, fill up chalker, etc.  It was very monotonous.  It didn't help that those little soccer twerps always littered the sidelines with orange peels during the games.  The garbage cans were right there!  Anyway, all of us on the field crew HATED soccer.  In the years since then I have grown to appreciate and even enjoy watching soccer on occasion (but not as much as curling).  I believe the tide turned when I was working in Paris and got sucked into the European championship euphoria with my French, Belgian, German, Spanish, and Dutch colleagues.  Europe is soccer (or football as they say) crazy, and it was really a fun atmosphere watching the games at bars after work despite having to put up with the French cheering for "Les Bleus" with their noses held high in the air.  Between my Euro 2000 experience and watching the last few World Cup tournaments, my disdain for soccer has subsided.  I'm actually somewhat looking forward to the next World Cup that will take place this summer.

Anyway, I do understand that there's more to life than sports.  The boy is free to pursue whatever extracurricular activities he desires, and I will fully support whatever he wants to do (unless he takes up ice dancing).  And if the boy ends up sports averse, there's always the girl to fall back on.  It looks like she's shaping up to be either a goalie or a linebacker.


One time in college a roommate of mine attempted to brew his own beer.  He ended up producing a yeasty, brown concoction that, in my opinion, tasted less like beer and more like the results of leaving a loaf of bread in a bucket of water for way too long.  However, I and the rest of the roommates did our best to choke down the swill and told him how great it was (pretty sure we didn't ask for refills).  Ever since that episode I've been wary of trying to brew beer myself.  But with my recent renunciation of light beer and focus on tasty, craft beers, I'm considering giving this a shot.  Perhaps before going it alone I should spend a weekend at a brewery where they show you the ropes, as described in this New York Times article.  Looks like fun!



Jeff H. said...

Sparty? Seriously Eric? You're just leading your boy down a path of misery. Why not honor your "other" alma mater and ingrain some Buckeye love..

Eric said...

It's great to be a Spartan, Jeff! Although I'm sure I'll take Cameron to the 'Shoe someday.

Post a Comment