I’m not sure if I want to have kids. It’s not that I don’t like them, though. I became a proud uncle nearly a year ago and if my girlfriend decides to keep my smart aleck self around, I will become stepfather to her awesome, if not sometimes too smart for her own good 11-year-old daughter. I love watching them grow and relish the opportunity to reenact the Reggie scene from Bad Boys 2 where Martin Lawrence and Will Smith scare the shit out of Lawrence’s daughter’s first date. Getting to tell a horny teenager I’m locked, loaded and hunting him down if he doesn’t have my niece or daughter back by curfew would take me back to my gangster days when I used to bust caps into mofo’s on the mean streets of Danville, Virginia. I’m kidding of course. I was more Puff Daddy than Tupac growing up.
It’s not that I don’t like kids. I do. It’s just I like other people’s kids. It’s funny to watch a kid put spaghetti between his or her toes and try to eat it or watch them run around the house butt-naked, but it’s even better to watch them do it, laugh, then be able to go home and leave the heavy duty lifting to their parents.
I’m too selfish to have kids, and I don’t think I’ll ever be ready tackle the life-long responsibility of being a parent. I don’t want to miss out on going to my favorite movies, watch cheesy cartoons or change crappy diapers, which is good considering I get sick at the smell of dog food. To paraphrase my boy Aziz Ansari, I love being to go do literally anything I want when I want to do it.
If you’re on the fence about having kids, then go to Wal-Mart or Costco on Saturday night and look at the number of dead-eyed parents dragging around their future felons of America. One is surfing on top of the shopping cart like Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf, the second is clinging to the bottom of the shopping cart like Keanu Reeves trying to disarm the bomb in Speed and the other is running around with a cereal box on his head, sticking up the elderly for their Social Security checks. Karma would make sure I have kids like that. In the words of my favorite soul singer, Otis Redding, I was sure hard to handle growing up. I’ve told enough lies and smoked enough weed to be a combination of Pinocchio and Snoop Dogg, and I know karma would take a major dump on my chest if I decided to have children.
If I were to have kids like that, my disciplinary techniques would land me in hotter water than the Maersk Alabama. My parents were old-school disciplinarians, and I have vivid memories of getting spanked in restaurants, drug and grocery stores and even church. For my parents, location didn’t matter. If you acted up, there were consequences for your actions. Public settings became the Roman Colosseum where Maximus, my dad, would do battle with Commodus, me, with the former always winning. This was back in the eighties, though, when parents could get away with spanking their kids. However, in today’s climate, I would get arrested faster for spanking my child in public than I would for yelling bomb on a plane. Robert DeNiro could use his CIA contacts to get me out of the latter charge, not before calling me Focker a million times, but not even Bobby’s henchmen could save me from the former charge.
I also have a bunch of weird ticks I’m afraid I’d pass on to my kids. When I was a senior in high school, I became paranoid about having testicular cancer because of a pain I was having in my groin. This was before WebMD, so I ended up spending an inordinate amount of time looking up cancer symptoms in volumes of medical encyclopedias’ we had around the house. My dad, one night, tired of my complaining, threw a bag of ice at me and told me to go ice down my balls. Not only did he do that, but he also went and told all my friends at school about it, so my senior yearbook became full of quotes from people reminding me to go ice down my testicles. I don’t want to pass that kind of paranoia on to my kids.
I would make a great parent, though, once I got over my selfishness. I had two great examples to learn from growing up. My parents would run my brother and me up and down the road all weekend for travel baseball and soccer games despite working their asses off during the week. They woke up on Saturday mornings, packed five teenagers in our van, drove four hours to the game, which my dad usually coached, then loaded us back in the van, drove another four hours home only to repeat the same routine the next day. I never understood Lionel Ritchie’s “Easy Like Sunday Morning” because there was nothing easy about Sunday’s in our house.
I would enjoy being that type of parent. A ride-or-die parent. I would love cheering my kids on from the stands and cussing out any of his or her teammates talking crap to them. My mom, in her fifties at the time, blessed out one of my teammates after he yelled at me for missing him with a pass he couldn’t get his out-of-shape ass in position to receive. I believe it was the first instance my mom used her patented “shit ass” on somebody other than my brother or me. Then there was the time she blessed out my high school soccer coach for not putting me into a game she drove two-and-a-half hours to see after working all day.
More importantly, I would take great pride in teaching them the keys to having a successful life: honesty, respect, discipline, self-control, perseverance, how to drink whiskey from a bottle, roll unfiltered Camel cigarettes and gamble on baseball. Gambling can be a very lucrative business, especially if you master the over and under and how to cover the spread. I was never taught these things in life, and I firmly believe it’s why I’m a broke, 34-year-old sportswriter who still lives at home with his parents.
Perhaps one of the most important things I could teach my child is how to be a die-hard sports fan. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Davin, is this really the most important thing you could teach a child? And the answer is no, but it’s still pretty important so let me make my case before your write me off.
Sports is a metaphor for life. You win some, you lose some, you tie, you laugh, you cry, you yell, you boo and sometimes you throw things at the TV, scaring the bejesus out of your girlfriend and her daughter in the process. Sorry babe. I didn’t mean to scare you but even you can admit it was bullshit how Virginia Tech lost to East Carolina a week after beating Ohio State at The Horseshoe. As a sports fan, you ride the gamut of emotions that life can throw at you and it prepares you for the real world. Legendary coach and all-around awesome guy Jim Valvano reminded us of the importance of laughing, thinking and crying every day when he accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 1993 ESPY’s. Sports fans experience these emotions on a regular basis and it allows us to live fuller lives. Sports fandom is about celebrating with your family as David Justice hits a solo home run and Marquis Grissom squeezes the leather of his glove for the final out that clinched the ’95 World Series. It’s about crying watching Virginia Tech’s national championship hopes end at the hands of college football’s perennial villains Florida State. It’s about watching the Washington Redskins slip into permanent mediocrity while Dan Snyder’s bank account gets fatter by the second. It’s about watching Kevin Harvick lose a race for going too fast. It’s about learning pain and frustration. It’s about learning long-suffering. It’s about experiencing redemption. It’s about learning how to wait and then feeling the orgasmic release when your side finally takes home the bacon. It’s about learning not to act like a spoiled sot when things don’t go your way. It’s about learning perseverance. And the definition of unconditional love.
It’s about the memories, the connections, the love and caring about something greater than yourself. It’s about feeling awestruck when walking into old Fulton County Stadium, before they tore it down, and seeing where Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record despite receiving death threats and not being on steroids. It’s about drinking warm, overpriced beer, yelling at the umpires and butchering “Sweet Caroline” with your summer family. Sports teams can bring us together, keep families close and help bridge generational gaps. Sure, you and your dad might argue about whether or not President Trump is a talentless hack or if his hair is real or not, but you can both agree seeing the Hokies win the national championship would be the greatest moment of your year.
Sports also have the power to bring people together in times of tragedy. I hate the New York Yankees with every bone in my body. It’s hard for me to root for a team when it’s owner stacked his squad like the president and coach of a local Little League organization. It’s hard to root for a team whose owner was a real-life version of Happy from the excellent 90s’ basketball flick, Blue Chips. However, for the first and only time in my life, I found myself rooting for the Yankees in the 2001 World Series due to the healing a world championship would bring to a city that suffered one of the greatest tragedies in American history only weeks earlier. I teared up every game of the 2007 college football season watching teams take the field wearing helmet stickers honoring the 32 lives lost senselessly on that April morning in Blacksburg, Virginia.
In conclusion, die-hard fans have lyrical souls. We can love under the best and worst of conditions. Despite three consecutive losing seasons and a fourth one appearing on the horizon, I still love the Braves as much today as I did in ’95 when they won the World Series. I stuck with Tech even after it lost 6–3 to Wake Forest in 2014. I mean, if you can still love a team despite their inability to score a touchdown against one of the ACC’s perennial bottom dwellers, then you know the definition of unconditional love. Die-hards realize we’re in for better or for worse, until death do us part and it makes us better people and lovers.
I rest my case.