Our kids are not big sports fans.
Our son tries to be. He claims to be a big soccer fan but I suspect it’s all for my benefit. He doesn’t know anything about the sport, he shows no interest in playing or watching it, and when someone mentions the Sounders there is a moment before he perks up and looks around, as if awakened from a reverie, to say, “Yeah! Sounders!”
That half-hearted phrase sums up his passion for team sports.
Our daughter on the other hand doesn’t even pretend to care about sports. She’s 9 going on 16 and when confronted by the opportunity to watch a game adopts her teenage persona and begins to explain how the sport, whatever it may be, doesn’t make sense.
“They just crash into each other and fall down. If they want to get the ball to the other end of the field why don’t they just run around the other team?”
“They just kick the ball back and forth. Why don’t they go around the other team and kick it in the net?”
She can apply this same basic argument to any sport – baseball, hockey, curling. However, in the midst of all this there is one team she will claim as her own, the Seattle Storm of the WNBA. Oh yeah, she’s a big “Storms” fan. We’ll ignore for the moment comments like, “why don’t they just give the ball to Sue Bird and let her throw it in the basket from way back there?”
We’ll keep trying.
At least the WNBA presents a positive model of women in sports that young girls can aspire to and I think this is what our daughter sees in it. Professional athletes, women, that she can relate to.
At the other end of that spectrum we have the NFL. Super Bowl XLVI just concluded and the kids suffered through four hours of large men crashing into each other and falling down punctuated by commercials that in some notable cases presented women in highly sexualized situations. It was unfortunate because the commercials were a large part of why the kids were interested in watching the Super Bowl. However, instead of the kind of commercial entertainment they were expecting (Darth Vader kid, funny animals) their little brows furrowed as they tried to figure out why those women were writing on that naked woman, was that Italian lady trying to kiss that man – or was she a car, and why were all those women in bikinis if they weren’t at the beach or swimming?
This is why we don’t watch TV.
Happily our friends, who were hosting the Super Bowl party because we don’t have cable, suggested Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl as an alternative. Here was a sporting event our kids could get excited about! If you’re not familiar with the concept of Puppy Bowl never fear, it’s really quite simple. The folks over at Animal Planet have put together a set that looks like a miniature football stadium, filled it with dog toys and adorable puppies, and turned on the cameras. It’s an hour of ridiculously cute frolicking. Add to that baby pig cheerleaders, a blimp piloted by hamsters, and the cat halftime show and our kids were in heaven. There were some nice touches as well like the water-bowl-cam that took cute to a whole other level.
Based on reactions to Super Bowl vs. Puppy Bowl I already know what we’ll be watching next year.
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John Kubalak is a writer, teacher, volunteer coordinator, raconteur, and scalawag. He does not publish science fiction under the pseudonym Jonathan Black but he does publish a monograph on fatherhood, The Eclectic Dad. He has a son, a daughter, a beautiful wife (and a little dog too!) who are adorable, maddening, zany, and brilliant all at the same time.