Daughter, My Stadium Seat
would have thought it? My baby girl's the
answer to my sports addiction.
By Mike Woitalla
the pre-baby scenario:
"Honey, you don't mind if I go to the big game on Saturday with
pals, do you?"
"A football game? That'll last all day, won't it?"
"Nah, the game itself will only take about three and a half hours.
It's those darn TV timeouts. But I won't be gone that long, if the
traffic's not so bad."
"You'll see your college buddies and you'll be gone all day."
"But we'll have Sunday. I'll mow the lawn and fix the shower
head in the morning, and then we'll take a nice hike in the afternoon."
"Yeah, just like last Sunday, when you had to watch the most
important baseball game in history -- besides the one two days later."
"Well, why don't you come with me?"
"You know I hate football. Five-second increments of violence
separated by 30-second breaks of nothing. ... Go ahead. Enjoy yourself.
But next weekend ..."
Here's the post-baby scenario:
"Honey, would you mind terribly if I took care of the baby on
Saturday? I think it'd be nice for Daddy and daughter to spend a day
"I knew you'd be a wonderful father," she says as she plants
a sweet kiss on your lips.
Yes, indeed. Your new child is a ticket back into the sports world.
What was once a day squandered at the stadium is now a father-child
field trip. Being a mother, as any father who pays any attention knows,
is an extraordinarily demanding task. It's exhilarating but exhausting.
Mothers thrive on their babies, but they crave some hours alone. Mom
needs time to rest, to enjoy those aspects of life that go easier
when you're not nurturing and protecting. In fact, Mom is desperate
for some time to herself. You could, for example, announce to your
wife, "Dear, why don't you spend some time on your own on Sunday
while baby and I go cliff-diving ... " And she'll first say,
"I knew you'd be a wonderful father ..." before it sinks
in and she shouts, "You'll what!?"
I speak from experience.
I have a wife who, though intelligent, worldly and opened-minded (and
quite likely to read this), lacked appreciation for the noble practice
of watching sports. I tried to explain that an athletic event is a
drama unfolding, a performance sometimes more tantalizing than Shakespeare
-- because no one knows how the game will end but everyone knows that
Romeo and Juliet always lose.
She grew to tolerate my tantrums in front of TV and my obsession with
certain soccer teams around the world that had a profound effect on
my mood. But her outright advocacy of my sports fervor emerged when
our daughter became my fan pal.
And children are perfect companions. They love hanging out with Dad
in the colorful atmosphere of a stadium while Mom gets some rest.
They always agree with father's astute observations. They cheer for
the right team. And my baby, good sport that she is, only needs her
diapers changed at halftime. Really.
Woitalla, who lives in Oakland, is the Executive Editor of Soccer
America Magazine and a newspaper writer. His daughter Julia arrived
last September weighing 9 pounds 4 ounces and is still portable.
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