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"Hey, Dad! Watch This!": A Tribute to Sports Dads

Cameon ShiflettSenior Analyst INovember 4, 2008

Think back to when you were little.

You're probably thinking about staying outside until your mom told you if you stayed out any longer you'd get a whoopin'.

You're probably thinking about watching all of your favorite shows and playing on your Nintendo GameCube (or just plain Nintendo, or Atari, or tiddlywinks mat, depending on your age).

You might be thinking about reading some of your favorite books and enjoying the times when your greatest worry was what your mom packed in your lunch that day.

And, for most of you, you are thinking about watching sports with your dad—going to those all important Pee Wee games, and, more importantly, sitting there on Saturday and listening to him scream at the TV.

Football admiration starts when we are little—not just football, but admiration for any sport, whether it be baseball, basketball, football, or even wrestling.

Those nights outside with your dad shooting hoops, dribbling the ball that he got you for your eighth birthday. That ball that he got especially for you. The "youth"-sized ball because Dad said you were too small for the "big kid" one. The endless games of "Horse" or "shoot out." The few times that you knew he let you win, but you overlooked it. Just the thought that you could beat your hero was enough to make you bust inside.

Those afternoons outside when, even after a long day at work, Dad comes home and asks if you want to go hit a few at the batting cages or throw the baseball outside in the yard. The ball and bat that he got you "just because." Just because you are that special to him. Your future is just that special to him.

Or maybe even those afternoons or weekends when you decide you want to throw a football around. That weekend when you are at Bryant-Denny tailgating and he wants to show off his child's amazing football talents. At least to him they are amazing. To him, you are amazing. So you throw that football around until the lighting bugs come out.

The football that he got for you signed by Jay Barker. The football that, while worn and tattered, still sits on display in your college dorm room 15 years later.

Maybe those nights when you said you wanted to be the first female football player to make it to the NFL, and Dad said, "You can do anything you want to, darlin', as long as you try and get determined about it." Maybe it's those words that keep you determined in whatever you do now—even if it may no longer be aiming to break the NFL's gender barrier.

Those days when Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler, Gene Stallings, and Paul "Bear" Bryant were kids' heroes.

Those days when kids respected their parents and said "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir." When the most important thing to a child was what their parents thought about them and if they would be proud. When the most important thing to a child was their family.

These times have changed.

Now, there are kids that have Britney Spears and P. Diddy as their idols. You have kids who wouldn't even know what to say if someone asked them to say "Yes, ma'am." The biggest worry is whether or not they will be shot at school that day because of a kid someone has overlooked.

Staying outside all night throwing a baseball or football or shooting hoops is unheard of. Why do that when you can experience it all on the big screen with a controller in hand, right? Wrong.

Times are changing. Those fortunate enough to still have those memories or who are making memories with their dads throwing a baseball, shooting hoops, or throwing around a football should be grateful. They are few and far between.

Dads are shaping the future of sports. They are making our future players and, hopefully, creating one little boy's future idol. They are shaping someone's future.

So this is to all those dads that are out there playing baseball with their son or daughter, and even to those that, after reading this, realize that they have become too busy with work or something else, and go out and buy their son or daughter that new football to make it weathered and tattered for their future dorm room.

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