The other day I was chatting with my dad about sports. With football about to begin, we were naturally talking about Michigan’s upcoming season. We were chatting about our concerns, what we liked and what we expected. This conversation turned into something so much more for me than just Michigan football though. It got to a point where I asked my dad when I truly started to root for the Wolverines. I was curious how, and why, I came to truly love this team more than any other “favorite” team of mine. I wanted to know why I was so much more invested in them than anyone else.
My dad told me that he used to sit me down and watch games with me. Apparently I was very interested in why my dad loved this team. I wanted to be just like him, so I guess it was just natural for me. One of my earliest memories, I was probably my son’s age, is sitting with my dad and him pointing out Bo Schembechler to me and telling me how great of a coach he is. It is burned into my brain. I am certain that was when my love for Michigan started, and it has only grown since.
We then started to talk about fandom, and where it comes from. This led to a conversation about why people get into the sports they get into. For me it’s simple. I have always wanted to be like my dad, so I watched and played what he coached and played. Baseball was easy. Football was glorious to watch. And basketball was like a ballet. I fell in love with these sports immediately because my dad loved them. As time went on, baseball started to fade. As I am growing older now, the NFL is becoming harder and harder to watch. Basketball is still great to watch, but I prefer playing it. But college football has been the one constant. It’s pretty much the same for my dad.
We then started to talk about my son, who says he loves Michigan, but I can only get him to watch for about an hour before he gets bored. But, he loves baseball. He loves to go to games, he will watch it on TV and he plays it passionately. I feel like he got that from me. I loved it just as much when I was his age. But, my daughter, who will be 3 in a few months, has no interests in the sports I watch or play. She does love her gymnastics class though. That is where she is happiest. It’s her thing and she’s good at it. I have no idea where it came from. I never did it. My wife never did it. And our son only likes baseball. Where did she get her love for gymnastics? I know my nieces did it, and seemed to enjoy it at the time, so maybe that’s where it comes from. Still though, kind of odd.
Then I started to think about my brothers and their kids. I also thought about my friends and their kids too. What will/are they into. My oldest brother’s oldest daughter is a volleyball player. Where did that come from? He played college football and was a great baseball player. So it didn’t come from him. But his wife is hyper athletic, she’s the one that got me into running, so maybe it came from her. I’m sure she played volleyball at one point in her life. My wife played it for a minute in high school too. Their younger daughter is more into basketball. I’m certain she got that from me. She has seen me play a lot. But that’s it for her. Other than basketball, I don’t think she really cares about sports. RD’s son likes tennis, which makes sense knowing his wife, and enjoys golf, again, makes sense knowing his grandparents on his wife’s side. But, he also LOVES NASCAR. No one in our family watches NASCAR. I can’t get into it, my parents don’t watch it and I know RD has never really watched it. So, where did his love for NASCAR come from? I don’t know if I will ever know. My other brother doesn’t have kids, but he was one hell of a football and basketball player. I’m sure he got that from our dad, but in reality, he’d rather go to a concert than a sporting event. That’s how he’s been since I was 17. He got me into live concerts.
Then some of my friends with kids, their kids are all over the place. Some like football. Others, baseball and basketball. But some like hockey and lacrosse and soccer. Their parents never really showed a love for those sports. But, their kids are way into it. I know hockey and soccer are big in Saint Louis, which is baffling to me. But where did lacrosse come from? That is so far out of left field. My own guess is, kids will like what their friends like, or play, for the most part. They just want to hang with their friends. Then you have some kids like me, that like whatever their folks like. Then you have the outliers, like my nephew, or friends kids that love lacrosse, that they just like something for no other reason than, they think it’s cool.
I’d love to see a scientific study as to why we fall in love with the sports that we do. But for now, I’m just going to go with what I know. But, I do think this is a very interesting thought exercise. I hope to hear from some people telling me why their kids like the sports they like. Let me know.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. He is looking forward to the day his grand kids are all about Rollerball and Muggle Quidditch. What a future we will live in.
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