As you know, I’m not quite a dad yet—more “pre-dad” or “dad-in-waiting” at the moment—but I feel the need to start working toward my Dad Card already. Which means an obligatory blog post about sports. Bear with me, and I’ll try to make it interesting for the non-sports types.
I enjoy sports—not all sports, mind you, but select ones. I’m not a sports nut who arranges entire schedules around my favorite team’s home games or television appearances, but I do follow some teams. Being from the SF Bay Area originally, I’m a pretty solid Giants and Niners fan. And I’ll usually watch a good hockey game with just about any teams. So at some point, it’s probably a given that Squatch will encounter sports in some form or another.
It is my plan that Squatch will, at some point, play sports. Now, Karli and I both have strong feelings against packing a kid’s schedule so full of crap (including sports) that they don’t have time to be a kid. (Probably plan on an entry into the Manifesto of the Uninformed about that.) But I think we both want Squatch to at least attempt something athletic at some point.
Any PE teacher will tell you sports are good for a kid. They’ll say sports keep kids healthy, teach them discipline and teamwork and blah, blah, blah. And they probably do. I’m not doubting it. But there are a couple other things I want my kid to learn from sports (aside from just burning off some energy for the day).
First, that it’s okay to have fun. At the very youngest levels of sports, that’s really all that matters and really all that should be emphasized. Not keeping score or giving trophies to the winners. And I can hear the fogies in the back saying, “Of course you keep score. How else are they going to learn to compete in life and try hard?” That’s where I say, “Screw you, Imaginary Old Man. Nobody’s handing out college scholarships or MVP trophies to six-year-olds. Just let them play.” Because I argue with imaginary fogies a lot. You’ll get used to it.
Second, that there are healthy ways to take out that “I just want to punch some0ne in the gonads” aggression that doesn’t end in injury or lawsuits or terrible looks from other parents. It’s okay to be show aggression in sports—for both boys and girls—in ways that are not encouraged or accepted elsewhere. I’d rather Squatch creams a ball into a double play than headbutts a kid on the playground. But that’s just me.
Boy or girl, we’ll probably get Squatch signed up for both baseball and hockey at some point. Hockey because I can actually get involved and help coach (total dad thing, right?), and baseball because Karli and I both like it, so it’ll be around in our house anyway. If the kid plays a season and hates it, then we won’t push it. If there’s some other sport Squatch would rather do, then that’s fine. If sports just isn’t an interest, then so be it. But whether it’s hockey or brussels sprouts, that kid’s going to have to at least try it first.
But here’s what really prompted this post. There are two sports (one for girls, one for boys) I’d love to be able to sign Squatch up for if it were around here (or we happened to move where it is around).
Roller Derby (for girls)
Don’t even try to pretend roller derby isn’t bad ass. It’s not even up for discussion. Bad. Ass. Would I sign my daughter up for it? If she’s willing, you bet. I dig the punk-inspired DIY aesthetic that defines the roller derby atmosphere, and, having met several roller derby ladies in the past, I think the strong-willed, I-can-take-care-of-my-own-shit, check-out-these-bruises brand of femininity is what I consider (perhaps to my wife’s chagrin) to be a pretty decent role model for young girls.
And the best part, as I found out when perusing XYZ Magazine (shameless plug) when we were in Topeka over the holidays, is that they actually DO offer girls’ roller derby classes. At least in Topeka—I’m not sure about elsewhere, but I’m assuming if they have it in Topeka, they have it elsewhere. And Squatch is already a pretty sweet roller derby name. Girl Squatch would be set.
Aussie Rules Football (for boys)
I don’t have any idea if they even offer Aussie Rules leagues at all in the States, let alone kids’ leagues. But seriously, have you ever seen an Aussie football match? It’s the sport cyborgs will play after they’ve succeeded in wiping the puny humans from the planet.
This is a sport from the people who brought you the Crocodile Hunter and Mad Max.
Every time I catch it on TV as I’m flipping through channels, I have to watch. Notice that wording. I have to watch. It’s not a choice. This game demands viewership. And I’d want to sign my kid up just so he could teach me how to play. Because it’s that freaking awesome. Unfortunately, I’m too lazy to use The Google to find out if that’s even possible. I mean, I know it’s not an option here in Deliverance, Oklahoma*, but what areas should I be scouting to make Squatch the first American Aussie Rules superstar?
*Not the actual town’s name. That would be terrifying.
Anyway, the point of this all is that (despite the immediately prior statement) I don’t care if Squatch becomes an athletic phenomenon. In fact, I’d much rather that kid doesn’t have a life that revolves around sports. I’m bound to but a book in its hand before a baseball, but a little activity and sunshine can’t hurt a kid, right? Well, except maybe a broken bone. Ooh, or skin cancer. Damn, I need to rethink that philosophy now.