Friday, January 27, 2012

Saving My Son From Sports Purgatory

I was born into Yankee fandom. My mom was a diehard Yankee fan and my father rooted for them too, but he also rooted for the Mets. So we never hated the other team and had the benefit of going to both Yankee and Met games when I was a little kid. My first sports memories was the 1976 World Series when the Yanks lost to the Big Red Machine. I was only 4 and the memories are mainly of the emotion of sadness than actual visualization. My most vivid memories first came in the 1978 at the height of the Yankees being the Bronx Zoo and the epic quest to come back from 14 games back of the hated Boston Red Sox. It is then when my love of the Yankees was born and my hatred for anything Boston. I was six, the same age my son Alex is now.

There was another thing I learned to hate--the meddling George Steinbrenner, so it became easy for me to root for the Mets in the 1980s and return my full allegiance to the Yanks when King George was banned from baseball. History would note that my hatred of the Boss was warranted and that the Yankee 1990s dynasty mainly came about because King George wasn't involved in the baseball operations.

The thing is, I wasn't born into football. My father never watched it (being from Puerto Rico his main sports loves were baseball and boxing). My older brother is a Dallas Cowboy fan from the days of Roger Staubach. So, when I was very young I tended to root for the teams against the Cowboys so you could say I was a nascent Steelers fan since they would kick "America's Team" in the but in the Superbowl. But it came a time when I got older and needed my own team. Being essentially an AFC fan, and from New York, I naturally started rooting for the Jets in the 1980s, although I did like the Giants and remember having my favorite cup at the time being a Giants cup. It wasn't until 1990 when I got serious about football and I fell in with the Buffalo Bills, mainly because of the justification (in my teenage mind) they were New York's only real team (since unlike the Jets and Giants they actually played in New York state.

Because my friend Sergio was such a die hard Giants fan, it was only natural to root for the Bills in the Superbowl against his team. After Sergio's murder a week before the big game, it was only fitting that I still rooted for the Bills out of respect for him. Of course, I was happy for him that the Giants won. I stood with the Bills through their 3 other heartbreaking Superbowl losses and when the Jim Kelly-Thurman Thomas dynasty faded away I needed a new team, and sticking with the AFC, I went back to the Jets in 1997 with the arrival of the legendary Bill Parcells, who had won 2 titles with Giants and took the Patriots to the Superbowl.

These last 14 years have actually been the best stretch in Jets history, but the stench of Same Ol' Jets remains. During this time I took pictures of my son in Jets gear, but him being so young he wouldn't have any say in it. Now at 6 going on 7 he has a better idea of what team to root for and this is a pivotal time because it will define his later years of fandom. That's why I did the only thing a good father can do--I've now made my son into a Giants fan.

Of course it's a perfect time with the Giants in the Superbowl. Let his first real sports memories be of happiness like mine was with the Yankees. I've bought him Giants gear and football, which we've thrown around. He'll wear the Giants gear on Superbowl Sunday. As would I. Yeah, I'm doing it for my son.

1 comment:

  1. I am a long time Met fan. The Mets & Syracuse University the only sports teams I am "passionate" about. Being a Met fan (from Queens BTW) means I have a serious inferiority complex with the Yankees and hate them. I married a Yankee fan. When my daughter was born, I promised she'd be able to choose which of those teams she wanted to root for. Whenever I buy something for the Mets, I have to get an equal item for the Yankees. It's a slippery slope.