Monday, October 22, 2012

Go team?

Last week, my son was invited to a birthday party for one of his classmates.  He was one of only two or three kids from the class invited, so clearly this kid and my son have connected.  We had a fantastic time, and I enjoyed the other moms and the kids.  But here’s what happened.  The party had an Orioles theme.  (That’s baseball if you’re as sports-dumb as I am.  I’m just proud that I didn’t have to look it up to determine the sport.)  The birthday kid asked my kid, “Do you like the Orioles?”

And my kid looked at him blankly, and said, “Huh?”

Once someone at the grocery store asked my kid if he liked the Ravens. (That’s football.  I didn’t have to look that up either.  Go me!)  He answered, “A raven is kind of like a crow.” 


See, I pretty much hate watching sports.  I would go to a live game, I guess.  If there was going to be beer and naughty food I don’t usually allow myself.  But honestly, I’d rather go to a pub and have beer and naughty food without the boring sports part.  I could see tailgating, especially with friends of ours, one of whom went to culinary school. He makes elaborate meals including Scotch eggs from scratch. (He mixes his own sausage spices, etc.)  I would be totally down with that.  And just, you know, skip the football part.  (A Scotch egg, if you don’t know, is a hard boiled egg, encased in sausage, breaded, and then deep fried.  Dipped in spicy mustard, if you’re me.  Mmmmm, Scotch eggs.)

I like playing sports.  I played basketball, soccer, and tennis as a kid, and I still enjoy those, or the slower-moving mommy-playing-with-kids equivalents.  I would probably still enjoy the faster-moving versions if I had better shoes and a better bra and a month to get back in cardiovascular shape.  But watching?  Absolutely no interest. 

My husband doesn’t watch sports on TV either.  He probably would.  He watches when he’s with his family.  But it’s not high enough on his priority scale to set aside time to watch, especially since he knows he would be watching alone.  He has made some noise about taking the kids to an Orioles game, and I said, “Awesome, have fun!”  But since I tend to plan all of our outings, the odds of this ever happening are pretty low.  Like, not statistically different from zero.  He can go.  I’m not going.  And I’m not planning it.  Maybe some other dad will plan it and he can tag along.

He has taught them baseball (a sport I loathe in all forms—playing, watching, watching kids play, etc.)  My daughter, who is very sporty, can already bat better than I can.  I have taught them some soccer skills.  They did gymnastics, and they both dance.  They have been exposed to parkour, and know the names of some of the feats from American Ninja Warrior.  They’re not… you know… deprived.

But in this area of the country, I wonder if sports and (gag) the local teams are an important part of their social education that I am neglecting.  Maybe they should know who the Ravens are.  Sigh.  But do I have to?

Kids their age are asking.  If I expose them to sports and they still prefer Mario and Pokemon and reading and dancing, at least I’ll know it’s their choice.  But what if they like sports?  I managed to score a husband who doesn’t watch sports.  I am not having football on every… um… Monday?  Monday night football?  That’s a thing, right?  Except that my dad comes down on weekends, and there always seems to be some important football game on while he’s here too.  So, is it, like, more than once a week?  Is that right?  That sounds bloody awful. 

Can I just not?  What do you guys think?  Can I just… not?

I’ve spoken with a few friends about it, and the consensus so far seems to be that I have to at least expose them to sports.  Football first, and then baseball, pretty much the two LEAST appealing sports possible.  I guess it could be worse.  It could be golf.  I imagine myself sitting down to watch a Ravens game with them, telling them that the Ravens are “our” team.  It feels like talking about the Easter Bunny.  Or maybe more like indoctrinating them in a religion that I don’t share.  In Maryland, the Ravens are more of a religion than, like, you know, god.  People (apparently) wear purple on Fridays before games.  No one dresses up every week for god.  I’m just saying.  Well, maybe for church I guess, but around here, people don’t really dress that nicely for church.  This isn’t Manhattan.  There are no fabulous hats.

This whole question makes me miss the San Francisco bay area.  Around here, my friend’s kids apparently have a “wear your favorite team jersey” day at school.  I have this fantasy that in the bay area, people would send their kids to school wearing the uniform of the Irish curling team or something.  It’s not the appreciation of sports that makes me uncomfortable.  It’s the assumption that everyone is into sports.  We have no jerseys.  We have no favorite team. 

The easy solution, proposed by a dinner party companion the other night, is that I outsource the problem.  Send the kids to someone else’s house on a game day.  Or make chicken wings and taco dip and buy a bunch of beer and have some people over to my house to teach my children what they need to know to be socially accepted in suburban Maryland.  So I guess I’ll do that.  So that at least when a school friend asks them if they like the Ravens, they won’t start quoting Poe. 

But can’t I have that same party—chicken wings, taco dip, beer—without the football?  Oh, right.  Right.  Crap.


  1. I'm with you but I disagree with your friend about having to expose them. If they are curious, they'll ask then sit them in front of a game with commercials every 2 minutes. Maybe they'll like the game or maybe they'll be more interested in the dog that ate the cat on the Doritos commercial.

    Two years ago we hosted a Super Bowl party. All who know us laughed. The moms hung out in the kitchen and supervised the chaos in the basement. We did however watch the Black Eyed Peas half time show then it was back to chatting. In attempt to stick with the sports theme, I made a bean dip in the shape of a football per my husband's request but that's just because he saw it on a commercial. The dads watched the game but were very subdued (so I was told later); likely because my husband wasn't yelling at a black box in the attempts that his ranting may have some affect. My husband doesn't yell period.

    So here is what I know about the Ravens:
    1. Joe Flacco is the quarterback (I think)
    2. Ray Rice is on the team but I don't know what position he plays. He does a lot of anti-bullying stuff so that's cool. Apparently he's very religious too but I found that out when trying to talk sports in a bar.
    3. Michael Ohr is a defensive player (I think) and I only know of him because I watched "The Blind Side" and only did so because Bullock won an Oscar. Otherwise not inclined to watch sports movies.

    If we have a Super bowl party this year, I'll invite you and you can see how the non-sports folk do it!

  2. So anyway he comes by it honestly. Based on her comment, Marna knows more about sports teams than I do.

    I have to admit, it is a handicap for a man to have no interest in spectator sports -- let alone personal pride in a specific team. Sometimes it is a severe handicap.

    Still, Zach is exposed somewhat to spectator sports through your dad, isn't he? If it interested him at this point, you would know, wouldn't you? He has ongoing opportunities to discover an interest later, too, right?

    It sounds like you feel you are not giving him the opportunity to develop or express an interest. But I can't imagine that is true. So, if your problem is that you wonder if you need to encourage an interest that isn't really there, I don't see you caving into popular culture on this.

    Maybe team Mario vs. team Sonic? Have him wear a team Luigi jersey.

    1. Love the Luigi jersey!

      I guess I think of the issue as less about interest and more about knowledge. Marna also knows way more about sports than I do, and she is identifying herself as a non-sports person for this area. Not at least telling my kids about the Ravens and showing them (at least part of) a game feels a bit like boycotting Santa Claus or something. I *could* boycott Santa. It would be fine. But people would be talking about Santa every winter and asking the kids about him. And it would be weird if they were like, "Santa who? Who's that?"

      I have absolutely no desire to cultivate an interest in football. This is more a question of social skills, I guess, and whether at least basic knowledge of a few sports teams is a required social skill. (A social skill that I lack, clearly.)

  3. Yeah. Me too. There are so many topics so much more interesting to discuss than the game du jour or injury of the week.

    Sadly, most men know more about the coaches than they do about the presidential candidates.

  4. As an Ohio girl, I'm prohibited from watching and liking the Ravens because they were the Browns until Art Modell moved them to Baltimore in 1996. Granted, he's dead now, but it's as good a reason as any to keep not watching them, right?

    Somehow, even growing up in a single-parent family with a woman at the helm, I guess I must have had enough exposure to sports to know and understand that much about the Browns/Ravens issue.

    Your kids will pick up things like teams and sports from their classmates. If they want to follow them, you're not exactly going to squelch their interest, right? No sense in forcing it down their throats, though. It's just a game.

  5. Not sure how I missed this post? I have done nothing to educate my daughter, and neither has Brian or my in-laws. Our school also has "jersey" day or "wear the color of your favorite team". She just wears her favorite color, or might choose to wear purple if she feels like it. She knows the Ravens are the purple football team, and pointed out an Oriels's mascot at a local event recently. She knows enough to get by, and I have done ZERO to teach her. She's just learned it at school. No biggie. Of all things to stress over, this is not it. :) Remember, mom taught us to grow up and "fit in" globally, not locally (thank god). Maryland's/suburb's fascination in this is local. Your kids will get along great globally because they do know so much about science, and art, and wine, and food, and love, and tons of other things that are more important in life.

  6. And if you don't make/get him/her a Mario/Luigi sports jersey, I will. Let me know.