Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Max, next to me on the couch, checking me out from the corner of his eye, either startled by how steamed I was that Terence Newman left Gerald Sensabaugh hung out to dry or, more likely, measuring how steamed I was as a way of figuring out how steamed it was OK for him to be. License to fume.
But this isn’t about Minnesota 34, Dallas 3, which, along with Alabama 37, UT 21, I think, has been Max’s Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 17 entry into Sports Matterdom.
I didn’t have it in mind that Sunday’s playoff game or the BCS Championship would be bonding moments for me and Max. I did think about how good it was to have him care that much, at about a year younger than I was for Super Bowl X. I’m not great company when there’s a game on that I care a lot about – unless it’s with someone else who cares that much. Max is growing into that role. Good.
I didn’t think of those as bonding moments any more so than a week ago when Erica’s frustration at not grasping the new improper fraction exercises gave way to mastery, proven by the huge smile on her face.
But they could have been bonding moments for them.
There are things we’re lucky to be able to share with our kids. Not enough, maybe. But they’re there. Sometimes the simple ones are the most lasting.
Nothing’s guaranteed. Not playoff wins, math making sense, time with your kids.
I’m not sure why a couple moments late in Super Bowl X have never faded from my memory, even after 34 years to the day. Maybe it was the first time I felt gut-punched by Sports Matterdom, and saw that Dad was experiencing the same thing, giving me all the approval I needed at age six, without even knowing he was doing it. His disgust authorized mine, empowered it. It was a bond, early on.
Ballgames don’t really matter, of course. The outcomes don’t, at least, not to most people. But there are many reasons sports are super-important to me, and I think to Max, and I know they were to Carson Leslie, too. Maybe in the moment it’s about the final score or the play-calling or the execution on the 6-4-3. Ultimately, though there’s character being forged. Focus. Competitive spirit, leadership, professionalism. Learning to handle adversity and use it to your advantage. Persistence, resilience, and heart.
Three things that struck home today, not unrelated to each other: I’m over Minnesota 34, Dallas 3. I wish I knew Carson Leslie a lot longer than I did. And I’ve never looked forward to a baseball season more, or to the next set of decimal coefficients to tackle, together.
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(c) Jamey Newberg
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