Making Time: The Red Team
My new sports fan fills a void I didn’t know I had

“Daddy, I’m rooting for the red team.”

Recently, and much to my delight, Brandon has started asking questions about sports. I’ve never pushed sports on him or Adam (or even my wife), despite the role it has played in my own life. I’ve always wanted my children to explore whatever interests them. If you come into our house these days, you’ll find the big TV is usually playing a cartoon like Paw Patrol, rather than a game. And at their current age, if there’s a game on, it’s usually streaming on my small cell phone screen and believe me, as someone who has spent more hours than I can count watching sports, the irony of the scene is not lost on me.

But then there was a bedtime not very long ago when Brandon asked to play with my phone. My wife plays some games on her phone with him. “I don’t play games, Brandon.” He seemed sad. My wife chimed in, “Daddy doesn’t have any games on his phone Brandon, but he does watch things.” Brandon started to look curious. “Mommy doesn’t watch anything on her phone, but Daddy watches sports on his phone,” she explained. He replied, “Really, can we watch before bed?” So up to bed we headed.

Sitting on Brandon’s bed, we started watching the Phillies game. The questions came next. “What’s that man doing on a hill?” Then, “Why did he put down the bat?” followed by “What’s that box on the screen?” and then “What is that green thing dancing around?” I answered each question, telling him about the bats, the balls, boxes, even the Phanatic.

The next night, Brandon came to me. “I want to watch more baseball Daddy! Is that red team playing?” I’m not sure who is more excited, me or him. So we turned it on again. This time, a player stole a base and I mentioned it aloud as I explained the plays to him, to which Brandon responded, “But we don’t steal things Daddy. That’s not nice. He should give it back.”

Then came basketball and hockey. Brandon started asking to watch those as well and questioned me about the teams, sights and sounds. “Why are the men’s shoes so squeaky on the floor?” because his own shoes “aren’t squeaky” when he shoots baskets in our backyard. I explained how the players are on a wood floor. He also wasn’t sure why they played music during the game because he didn’t want them to be distracted when shooting. Despite the concern about distraction, the next time we went out to play after watching a Sixers game, he asked, “Daddy can we play music on your phone like they do when the Sixers shoot?” All I could do was laugh and smile.

That night, as I walked out of Brandon’s room after bedtime, I paused. There is so much I want to tell him about baseball. And all of the other sports. And I can’t wait to go to games together if he’s interested. This is going to be great. It’s going to be just like how my Dad and I were able to bond, which after his passing earlier this year I’ve been thinking about regularly.

I miss my Dad.

This month is Father’s Day, my first without him. And it’s hard. And I’m still struggling with it. Some times are harder than others. Sports is what really connected my Dad and me. It’s what we always spoke about. It was our common ground. And now I’m starting to have that with my oldest son. It’s giving me more comfort than I realized.

I can’t believe I didn’t notice sooner: There’s a void in my own life that Brandon is suddenly filling with his self-discovered curiosity about sports. He’s filling the very gap that was created with the loss of my father – a person I can talk to about sports all the time. Who will sit and watch with me on a whim.  And that, even with all the challenges I have faced with the loss of my dad, counts as a win.

June 2021
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