Sunday, September 24, 2006

Kids Get First Taste of Big XII Football

When I was a kid, I never realized that it was difficult to be a good parent. Really difficult. The trade-offs are endless.

During my time as a doctoral student at Indiana, I always was impressed by my colleague Johnny Sparks' dedication to his role at father. Johnny was always including his son in sporting events. For a sports fan, that's difficult. Even gung-ho kids are in it for the food.

I have tried to do better in this regard. I took the girls to several women's soccer games at IU, and both of my older girls attended men's basketball games at Assembly Hall (unofficial motto: In 49 other states, it's just basketball. But this is Indiana).

We have been to women's soccer games here at Tech, but last night was the first adventure for college football on the big scale. Three kids amid 50,000 people. Just getting them to walk from the car to the stadium was a chore.

They don't really want to watch the football game. They liked the pre-game show wherein the masked rider rides onto the field atop the midnight matador. But after that, they're strictly in it for the food. And Coca-Cola. And more Coca-Cola. They danced a bit as the Goin' Band from Raiderland played at halftime. But then it was fidget-city.

At the end of the night, they had fun. And I had fun. But you don't normally have to work that hard for fun.

It was the perfect game to introduce three disinterested kids. Tech played Southeastern Louisiana, an overmatched I-AA school. The final score was 62-0. We left after the third quarter. It was a beautiful night on the South Plains. The temperature was in the lower 70s, and only a few clouds dotted the sky. As night fell, the city lights (such that they are) were beautiful.

As someone who makes their living studying mediated communication, I could not help but believe there are some things that are better in person. College football is one of those things. I remember when my brother, Lance, was a student at Fort Hays State University. I was fairly young, but we drove out there one weekend. It probably was parents' weekend.

I remember exactly four things about that weekend. I recall the longest lines I had ever seen at a McDonald's. I recall my parents buying me paint pens at the bookstore (they were all the rage). I recall going somewhere to see some bison. But more importantly, I recall going to the football game. I am sure I was a pain. I'm sure I was in it for the food. But more than two decades later, I remember going to the game.

At a time in my life, when I cannot seem to remember what I had for breakfast, this is pretty impressive to me. It's why I carry a 35 pound kid on my shoulders for more than a mile. It's why fidget city is worth it.

Sure. They won't remember who won. Or what happened. But hopefully, they'll remember going with their mom and dad (and friend Wendy). And that makes it all worth it. And that's something you'll never get off of a television.


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