I am a sports fan. My dad taught me the love of both playing and watching sports as a child. I remember doing the Heisman pose with Desmond Howard as an 8-year-old. I remember watching Bo Jackson hit a home run at Kauffman Stadium. When I saw signs for Howard Johnson, I thought the Mets third baseman was also an owner of roadside establishments. I will never forget the disappointment I felt in 1995, 1997, and 2007 when the Indians fell short. I will always have a special place in my heart for the melodic tones of Pat Hughes and Ron Santo as the soundtrack of my afternoons as an intern in a comfortable Ohio town and as a new software developer in a brand new city. Their voices welcomed me to the town I now call home.
I am a man. I wanted a son to share in this joy of sports. That desire died the minute Charlotte became real to me, and my wildest dreams of a few years ago now pale in comparison to my reality. The experiences we share will be just as amazing as the experiences I would share with a son. When I take a good look at what sports are and what they have become to me, I realize that they are just another tool. When used properly they can strengthen and enhance good character traits. When used improperly they can cause irreparable damage.
I am a father. I cannot wait to pass on my love of sports to my daughter in a way that will inform who she is. There are things that I learned from sports that she will have to learn at some point.
She needs to learn that success is fleeting and instances of joy need to be savored. She needs to learn that heroes exist, but they are humans just like her. She needs to learn that to love one thing means you inherently dislike another thing. She needs to learn that it matters if you win or lose but once you’ve won or lost, it doesn’t matter as much. And most importantly, she needs to learn how to be empathetically joyful: how to truly be joyful for the success of another when all she wants to do is wallow in self-pity and doubt. She will learn these things with sports, as I did, or without sports, as her mother did. The vehicle for learning will be as nuanced as her personality.
I am a Charlotte fan and she’s a fan of me. That is all that matters.