Tales of Bittersweet Loyalty

The Family Man’s Guide to Being a Sports Fan

July 26, 2011

Alarm goes off. Get ready in a hurry and off to work. 8-5 it. Commute home. Get everyone fed. Bath time. Story time. Bed time. Time for random to-dos, maybe some time with the wife. Bed time around 11. Wake up the next day, and do it all over again. Welcome to life as a suburban family guy, where weekend birthday parties, youth league sports and stocking up on Capri Sun and Goldfish (love those things!) trump all. That includes sports.

Once upon a time, sports came first. I suffered through the post-Patrick/Olbermann era SportsCenter, all in the name of glossy highlight packages and over-coverage. Hell, I once filled out an NIT bracket. This led to an intervention, but I digress. Point is, with two kids on the payroll, the days of diehard sports fandom are long gone. These days, it’s all about being tactical, a quality-bests-quantity approach to sports, if you will.

Below are some tips to ensuring your love of sports doesn’t wilt with the arrival of your first born, meet-the-teacher nights, 2 a.m. wake-up calls, Saturday morning soccer matches and various other time-and-soul-draining parental tasks.

*Get a smartphone. iPhone. Droid. BlackBerry. Doesn’t matter. Get something portable with a dependable 3G signal and sports-friendly apps (I recommend Yahoo! Sportacular) that deliver timely score updates. That way, when you find yourself eating that second slice of cake at a child’s birthday party (red velvet rocks), or taking in the enjoyment (misery) that is a couple’s baby shower, you’ll be prepared should this event conflict with the big game.  Speaking of which, be prepared for all of these events to conflict with the big game. The karmic gods are sadistic that way.

*Avoid ESPN. It’s like crack. If you turn it on, you won’t turn it off, and the wife will treat you accordingly. Stick to the occasional online surfing session. Besides, you should be avoiding ESPN anyway because, well, ESPN sucks.

*Be a dedicated husband and father, thus ensuring “get out of jail free” status when it comes to watching sports at your undisturbed leisure. Yeah, right.

*Youth sports—pick the right season. Most suburban youth sports leagues operate on a four-season calendar. Pick the summer session for your kids, who should be allowed no say whatsoever in this matter. Considering most youth sports summer leagues run May-July, aside from baseball’s dog days and maybe an NBA playoff game here and there (assuming the league ever resumes play), you won’t miss much.

*Be selective. The days of 24/7 sports fandom are over, my friend. Time to get selective. College football or the NFL? NBA or the NHL? Gotta pick one, or risk become an uninformed, fairweather fan of both. Pare down fantasy football participation to a maximum of two teams, only one of which should be a money league (note: kids are expensive). Avoid fantasy baseball, which requires daily updating. As for fantasy basketball, well, no one plays fantasy basketball.

And if all else fails: Get divorced, die a sad, lonely sports diehard. Hey, we can’t all be winners, can we?