Football And My Parental Hypocrisy

originally posted on my old host on August 9, 2018

Take a deep breath. A really, really big deep breath. Do you smell that? Do you recognize that sweet aroma infiltrating your nostrils?

It's football, baby. Sweaty, nasty football.

For most fanbases, this is the best time of the year. With nearly a full offseason behind them, fans have had plenty of time to delude themselves into thinking that their teams are better than they really are. Sure, the season can quickly become a dumpster fire once it starts, but right now, we're all equal. We're all 0-0, baby.

Leading up to this particular football season (or seasons if you acknowledge college and professional football), I'm questioning my responsibility as a parent.

Being a parent certainly has its challenges, but it also has its pleasures. You spend so much of your time worried about whether you're doing it right, so when you get one of those rare moments of validation, you hold on tight.

For me, those moments often come in the form of emulation, when my son takes interest in something only because I've exposed him to it. Although I want my son to grow up to become his own man, I also enjoy these moments that inflate my ego just a bit. There may come a time when he hates things simply because I like them, so for now I'm going to savor these moments.

I'm talking about moments like this:

(Who do you think taught him how to do Christian Bale's Batman voice? That ain't no accident.)

And who do you think taught him which teams to root for come football season?

I can't explain all the feels I get when my son becomes excited upon recognizing something related to Louisiana Tech or the Oakland Raiders. It reminds me of the influence and responsibility I have toward this little person. Whether we deserve it or not, we parents are given such power over the lives of our children, just because we're present. And because our children haven't had enough time or exposure to the rest of the world to figure out all of the ways we come up short on a daily basis.

I enjoy watching football with my son. I enjoy celebrating touchdowns with him. I enjoy teaching him the traditions and the special cheers.

Just as I enjoy when we watch TV shows together like the ones I grew up on (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Voltron, for example). And just as I enjoy talking about superheroes and dinosaurs, two staples of conversation with a five-year-old boy.

When you get down to it, football is just another way we get closer.

But every day I hope that he doesn't grow up wanting to play football.

I especially hope that he doesn't want to play football in order to impress me. While I can't predict how my son will feel in the future, there's no doubt that he wants my approval at this age.

I don't think I need to go into much detail about why I don't want him to play football. The realities about the various types of injuries players suffer can be found in a quick Google search.

Every time I ponder this issue, I'm reminded of my mother's mantra, which used to make me cringe every time she said it: Do as I say, not as I do. She once said it as she was lighting up a cigarette, right after she told me never to start smoking. Of course, my situation is a little different because I'm not doing football; I'm merely watching it.

On the flipside of the argument, at some point my son will start living for himself

...and my wishes and desires will be an afterthought. It's a tough reality, but it is necessary to face and accept.

So this pigskin season, while everyone else is worried about the scoreboard, I'll be watching the games and tormenting myself by wondering with every tackle and concussion whether I'm failing as a parent.

Because that's just how I roll.