Friday, January 04, 2008
Fathers & Sons
I spend so much of my time these days trying to figure and discover just what it means to be a father to sons that sometimes I forget that I still am son to a father.
Over the holidays I got the chance to spend some time with my parents and – in particular – my father. I had been in contact with my mother over the past month or so trying to nail down the specifics of a visit be it them coming here or my family going to them.
Eventually it boiled down to the ‘rents coming to me.
So I put a plan in motion and succeeded: I scored a pair of UNC basketball tickets for me and my dad. Nothing says “I love you” in a more manly father-and-son way then getting much-sought after tickets to a legacy basketball team currently ranked Number 1 in the polls.
It was the least I could do for a man who took me to God knows how many Redskins games – my dad has had season tickets since before I was born. Of course I still curse him for exposing me to that sports radio prick Ken Beatrice because I can’t think of any Skins memories without thinking of waiting out parking lot traffic at RFK listening to his post game wrap-up.
Not only was my dad an avid Skins fan but he was almost all things sports growing up; he was elemental in the formation of the Olney Boys & Girls Clubs and was a coach, ump and referee throughout my upbringing.
It was probably a necessary respite from spending his days toiling away in the bowels of the Dept. of Defense, Crystal City, The Pentagon or whatever type of government jimjam he had his hands in at the time.
Yes, my dad was a high school football referee. Which I guess is sort of like having a dad as a cop except he had only access to a yellow flag not a gun
My dad coached me in CYO track when I was in elementary school. I’m not sure how it came about like was there no one to coach the 12 under boys team and my dad stepped up or that he wanted to take a stab at it and I was his entry to that world. I think he coached my sister’s softball team and my brothers’ football team at various points but that seemed fairly long ago in my mind by the time he got to me. And what did he do? He made this sprinter - 100, 200, 4x100 and long jumper - tackle the 800 meter run. Maybe he saw something in me that I didn’t but I always thought it was because we needed someone to run the 800 and there was nobody else to do it and being the coach’s son I was the default guy. I still get razed by my brother Mike for making it to the championship during my inaugural year at the 800, finding myself tied for second on the final turn, yet I managed to finish dead last.
During the game we talked about many things fathers and sons talk about – old neighbors, relatives, and the state of the union (ha! That last one’s a joke folks. I don’t go near politics or religion with my parents), but one of the things we talked about was what makes a good coach. He said good players. But I said a good coach knows how to recruit the right players. We went on at length about “coach-ability” but in the end it came down to being able to lead or finding those who will follow your lead which is a lot about what being a parent is about – it’s a lot like coaching and sometimes your dad might be like Bobby Knight but despite his warts-and-all disposition he still might posses some decent qualities. While my father by no means was a Bobby Knight, I’d say more like Dean Smith or Joe Gibbs where intellect came before emotion.
This could probably merit a longer post but I hate reading long winded posts myself so here you go. Pictured above is the rally towels they gave out at the UNC vs. Nevada game we went to. I’ll be selling these on eBay for top dollar when they finish the season undefeated…