I was struck by something profound (no, nothing thrown at me by my wife) while flipping between the Sox-Yankees, the Rocket innings on ESPN2, and the replay of the Champions League final where AC Milan defeated Liverpool 2-1: How obsessive has Boston sports become from the point of view of a fan betraying loyalty to the team?
This all came about while the watching the soccer match and we all chuckled about AC Milan star Kaka and his name being oh-so-funny to my 3 and 5 year olds. My son then asked: Which team do we like, Dad? It hit me right there. I am so used to telling the kids: We like the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Celtics, the Bruins, the Revs, the PawSox, etc that we really watch sports for the enjoyment of the games. We watch to root our team to victory, nothing more.
Now, I watch a lot of baseball. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much baseball. But my non-Sox watching usually occurs long after the kids are in bed and I can enjoy watching the Los Angeles Ex-Sox, the Padres (both teams in my fantasy leagues are stuffed with Padres), or whatever game strikes my fancy (I enjoy keeping up with the AL East rivals, and young exciting National League teams like Milwaukee, Arizona, and Colorado).
But what am I teaching the kids? The obsessive and all-consuming Boston sports fan mentality of the 21st century? As a kid, I bled for the Sox and Pats, but I had my other teams as well. The Whitey Herzog St. Louis Cardinals were just simply the most exciting team in sports. I loved the Joe Gibbs (pre-race car/Dan Snyder model) Washington Redskins with Joe Theisman, John Riggins, Mark Mosely, Dexter Manley, Charles Mann, Darrell Green and the Hogs. Of course, the Patriots and Red Sox stunk in those days, so maybe it was my rationalizing to find a winner in a time of Ralph Houk and Ron Meyer leading the locals.
Fortunately, my son (as usual) restored my faith in humanity by, after I explained I was rooting for Liverpool because they were from the EPL, stating: Dad, I think I want to root for the team with the Kaka guy. Way to go, my boy: make your own decisions and do not limit yourself to regional allegiances that keep you from enjoying a good match or game. Tribal loyalty, while the end-all be-all right now in Boston sports, need not be divisive. I have tried to teach understanding of the poor misguided souls who root for the Yankees, especially since there are family members in New England conspiring against the Sox! Do not hate the person or team, but simply root for your favorites to win.
Of course, now I only have to worry about him going to pre-school and telling the teachers and kids that he was watching Kaka on television last night. Sigh, I hope I can let the wife handle that phone call from his teacher.
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