Reflections of a Sports Fan
Most people have some affinity for sports. Sports, particularly in the United States, play a significant part in our society and consciousness. Witness the role sports had in the days and weeks after the tragedies of last September. Notice too that half of the top 30 rated shows in television history have been sporting events. And most recently, the Winter Olympics set new records for viewers and popularity.
I'm a sports fan. I have been for as long as I can remember. I have many memories of games attended and watched. I can give you statistics and records (especially from the time of kidhood, when I had more time to focus on such matters.) While there are many sporting events I want to attend, and venues I want to see, I've had the privilege of attending some spectacular sporting events already, including: the Rose Bowl, the Indianapolis 500, the Kentucky Derby, NCAA Men's basketball tournament games, and NBA Playoff games.
My son Parker is nine. From the time he was born, I hoped he would be a sports fan. Ok, I hoped he'd be a super athlete, THEN I hoped he'd be a sports fan. Parker does not have, at this point, great athletic prowess. Parker, also, up until now, hasn't been very interested in sports. In fact, when he does watch, my wife observes that he does it mostly to please me.
Last Friday we were attending our nephew's high school basketball game and Parker, for the whole second half, was really into the game! He told me afterwards that, "the third and fourth quarters were awesome Dad!" As we drove home I wondered if, perhaps there was a budding fan in the back seat . . .
Why Am I a Fan?
I've often wondered why I am a sports fan. I didn't really get it from my Dad, who, while he enjoys watching, didn't always have a lot of discretionary time to watch sports as I grew up. I am a competitive person, and even though I was not a very successful athlete, I've always found inspiration in watching people work hard, compete, and win. This is one thing I get from watching sports. I read biographies of successful people for much the same reason. It is inspiring to see people reach their goals, to push themselves to new heights of achievement and success.
The meaning and value of sports to me has never been encapsulated so clearly as it was expressed in the theme for the recent Winter Olympic Games - "Light the Fire Within." Sports to me are inspiring because we can, in the best moments in sports, see the fire within the competitors and in the competition. Watching people compete at something they love to do, and do exceeding well, provides me a mirror-a mirror to help me see my best self.
Why do I Want Parker to be a Fan?
I have probably thought more about this question than about the previous one. Do I wish for him to find the same enjoyment as I find for his reasons or mine? Do I want him to be my sports buddy? Do I want an excuse to trade family time for sporting events? (After all, if he wants to go then it is family time, not Dad's hobby time.) Do I hope he finds positive avenues to spend some leisure time, and think sports is a good choice? I believe at some point I have wanted Parker to be a sports fan for all of these reasons. But I come back to the Olympic theme again, to complete my reflection. I want Parker to light his own fire within.
Perhaps Parker will find a fire for an athletic endeavor. Perhaps he will not. My hopes for him are high. If it turns out that he finds sports, playing or watching, to be an avocation, that will be great. In the end, I want him to be passionate about life and to find many ways to fuel that passion.
The Winning Shot
While I don't participate in sports anymore, I believe the inspiration, exhilaration, and learning I have gained from being a sports fan has helped fan my internal flame. My flame burns brighter as I relate my goals and achievements to athletic endeavors I have watched; whether a come-from-behind victory, a terrific team effort, a major upset, or an inspiring individual performance.
What About You?
Are you a sports fan? If not, do you know one? In either case, spend some time thinking about your connection to sports. These reflections about a passive hobby have helped me place it in the proper perspective in my life. I am better able to decide between watching a game I "really want to see" and completing a step towards a goal. It makes it easier to turn off the game (or not even turn it on) when I could spend time with my family. It has also helped me think about my motivations as a parent. All of this reflection will help me to be more successful both as a parent and an individual.
Spend some time thinking about your motivations and reasons for being a fan. What you learn may be more powerful than a ninth inning home run, or more elegant than a figure skating performance.