Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day.

When I became a parent about five years ago and realized firsthand how much work it is, I not only developed a greater appreciation for my own parents but I couldn’t help but consider what kind of a son I was (and, to a lesser extent, still am). In short, did I make the job of being a parent more or less miserable than most kids do?

I think for the most part I was (and again, still am) a pretty good son. But there is at least one situation I wish I would have handled better. (OK, there’s probably a lot, but one specifically that relates to sports and this is a sports blog. Stay with me, people! Don’t click over to Deadspin just yet!)

My parents, for better or worse, never really pushed me. I was a pretty decent student and didn’t cause a lot of trouble (at least not that they knew of — hey now!), so I guess they were satisfied with that. But around the time of fifth or sixth grade, my dad decided that I should play some hoops. He signed me up for a summer basketball camp and then for a fall basketball league. It made sense in that I was tall; unfortunately, I was horribly uncoordinated. It also made sense in that I was interested in sports; unfortunately, I was also interested in comedy, and I wasn’t prepared to be the next Willis Reed anymore than I was prepared to be the next Joe Piscopo.

Now with all that my father had done for me up to that point — which had included the recent purchase of an Atari 2600, the day that he brought it home being one of the happiest days of my childhood — one would think that I would have sucked it up and given the experiment my best shot (no pun intended). After all, neither the basketball camp nor the basketball league took up that much of my light schedule and I still had plenty of time to play Asteroids and watch Diff’rent Strokes.

But I was an insufferable brat during the camp and especially during the league. I hated it and I made damn sure I let my dad know how much I hated it. Looking back, I don’t so much regret that I didn’t try harder — I stunk and everyone, including myself, the coaches, the other kids, the other kids’ parents, and undoubtedly my own parents, knew it — as much as I regret that I made the experience so miserable for my dad that he never again attempted to get me to play sports.

In my sixth-grade mind, I had won the battle, but a quarter of a century later, my (slightly more) mature mind still regrets how I behaved.

Of course the incident didn’t in any way destroy my relationship with my father, and like most fathers and sons, we’ve shared many enjoyable sports-related times since then, whether watching games together on TV, attending them in person, or simply arguing about how bad Tavaris Jackson really is.

On this Father’s Day, I have a slight regret that I didn’t get it together and take my dad to today’s Brewers/Twins game. But since recent flooding, not to mention ridiculous gas prices, have made travel from Minneapolis more of a challenge — and the fact that my parents are already traveling to Madison next weekend for my daughter’s one-year birthday party — I’m not hugely remorseful, and certainly not as much as when I think back to my quickly-aborted basketball career.

These days, like a lot of parents, my wife and I are trying to get our son to try many different things in order to learn what he enjoys doing. And every time he complains about having to learn a new skill, be it in swimming, soccer, or gymnastics — and there have been more than one or two meltdowns — I bite my tongue as best I can, knowing that it’s payback for the grief I brought down on my dad.

Gotta go call the old man. I hope that if you’re fortunate enough to still have your dad around that you’re finding some time for him today.

(Although I wouldn’t blame Ned Yost’s kids for giving him the cold shoulder today. What’s the deal with staying with the badly struggling Julian Tavarez so long? Were all the other pitchers having wings up at Friday’s or what?)




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