I woke up early this morning and took my 3-year-old to the ice-skating rink. Back in January, he got obsessed with hockey and he likes to go wobbling out on the ice.
Then I took my 6-year-old to a summer basketball thing I signed him up for -- he really likes baskeball (he's partial to the Thunder, although he favors Westbrook over Durant).
This is the day after we all went to Nats Park to watch the Nationals play the Yankees. It was the 6-year-old's second MLB game (we went to Wrigley two summers ago for his first) and the 3-year-old's first MLB game. It was a gorgeous day and a great atmosphere.
The influence dads have on sons when it comes to sports is highly variable. If your dad was a fan, you'll probably become a fan. Usually, team allegiance is inherited, father to son, like male-pattern baldness. (For example, I grew up a huge Cubs and Bears fan -- even in D.C. -- because my dad was a huge Cubs and Bears fan.)
My earliest sports memory is playing a game with my dad where he would say the city name and I would say the NFL team nickname. I was probably 8 or 9. My dad would almost always get us to an Orioles, Bullets and Caps game once a season (a Redskins game if we were really lucky). A few years later, he got a 10-game plan for the Orioles -- it was a fun tradition. By then, I was all-in as a sports fan. But I was also in my late teens.
At 6, Gabe watches NFL Red Zone. He watches ESPNews Highlight Express every morning. He follows my fantasy team. He knows dozens of NFL players -- probably a lot more. He knows every team of the four major sports. He has an insatiable appetite for sports (I just caught him watching Portugal-Holland Euro 2012.)
Maybe this is all of a piece -- kids growing up ever faster as technology makes information more available. Gabe knows every NFL player because he watches Red Zone, where I had to watch whatever Redskins broadcast was on. He knows all the scores, because he plays with my iPhone app Sportacular; I relied on reading the newspaper sports section -- no West Coast scores, obviously -- at breakfast.
He's not just a better fan at 6 than I was at 6 -- he's a better fan at 6 than I was at 10 and he's damn close to being a better fan at 6 than I was at 16. Thank you, Internet + iPhone + Red Zone + ESPN.
As a sports fan, I think it's fun that this is something we can relate to together. It bodes well for a lifetime of bonding over sports fandom, if nothing else. (Let's hope there is more, obviously.) As a parent, I wonder if it's all too much too soon -- but, for now, it's mostly benign, and I am thrilled to answer his many questions, even when we're at a Wizards game and his question is: "Daddy, why are they booing Andray Blatche?"
He is still at the stage of discovering how awesome sports can be -- which, as a dad, it makes me feel like I'm rediscovering how awesome sports can be, too.