I absolutely love sports. My favorites are professional football, college basketball, and soccer. In reality though, I’ll watch pretty much anything except NASCAR and baseball. I even know the rules for cricket. With all that being said, I find myself watching less and less sports as my kids get older.
Weekends used to be for football. I would spend Saturday watching any college football that happened to be on. Being from the Midwest, I’m a Big 12 (10? 9? 11?) guy. On Sundays, I had the NFL Sunday Ticket, so I would basically watch nothing but football for about 10 straight hours. One of the best parts about moving to the west coast was that football started right away in the morning, and I didn’t have to sit through hours of pre-game shows. It didn’t really matter who was playing. If the game was on TV, I was probably going to watch it. If I actually cared about any of the teams, I would usually end up yelling at the screen in either joy or agony (as a Dolphins fan, it was normally agony).
When my daughter was really young, this wasn’t an issue. She slept a large part of the day, and when she was awake, all she really wanted to do was sit on my lap anyway. That was terrific. As she got older though, things started to change. She wanted to be read stories and play on the floor. Awhile later, my son came along, and he never wanted to sleep or sit on your lap. He was always on the move. For a good amount of time, this annoyed me. Now, don’t get me wrong. I play with my kids all the time. I read them stories, and I roll around on the ground, and we have a great time. I just wanted to be left alone while football was on, and it always seemed like they were acting out the most on Sundays.
Then, I realized a few things. One of those things is that while my kids aren’t old enough to sit down and watch football with me, they are old enough to be traumatize by seeing their daddy yell at the TV for no good reason. I also realized that the reason they were acting out more on Sundays is because they just wanted my attention, and I wasn’t giving it to them. That certainly wasn’t fair to them. They don’t understand my obsession with football (to be honest, I barely understand it). They’re just kids. They want to have fun and be the center of attention and play with mommy and daddy. That’s their goal in life.
Therefore, I decided to make some serious changes. At first, these adjustments were pretty hard. We had to get completely out of the house on Sundays. If we stayed home, I would eventually turn on the TV to watch the game, whether I intended to or not. At the time, we lived in Monterey, so we would just load up the car and take an 8 hour road trip down through Big Sur. It was perfect because we were nowhere near a TV, and we loved that drive anyway. As an added bonus, I didn’t even get cell phone reception, so I couldn’t even check the scores. We got rid of the NFL Sunday Ticket, and Sundays became family time.
As time has passed, it’s gotten much easier. I no longer have to leave the house. We can stay home and be just fine. If the Dolphins are playing on TV, I can even have the game on in the background and still play with the kids (it helps that the Dolphins are horrible, and I expect them to lose anyway). If the Dolphins aren’t on TV, we’re much more likely to watch Phineas and Ferb (possibly the greatest cartoon of all time) than football. Sundays are now dominated by Candy Land where the kids constantly beat me (seriously, why do I always get the Mr. Mint card). I rarely watch the other sports anymore. I’ll watch college basketball if it’s tournament time, and I will always watch the World Cup, but that’s about it.
Now, have these changes made me sad at times and made me feel less like myself? Absolutely. However, am I incredibly happy that I made these sacrifices? You better believe it! I love sports, and I certainly miss end-to-end football on Sundays, but I love my kids much more. They need me to be a father on Sundays, and they certainly don’t need to see me yelling at the screen like grown men 3,000 miles away can actually hear me. They need me to roll on the floor and get my butt kicked in Candy Land. While I miss sports, this is a sacrifice that I happily made.