Not Now, Honey. I’m Bonding With The Kids.

23 Jun 2010 by Dear Bad Dad, No Comments »

Dear Bad Dad,

I’m all in favor of kids not watching too much TV, but do sports count if your kid is in the room when you are watching a game?


Dear Sean,

For the moment, let’s set  aside your whole politically-correct-responsible-father “I’m all in favor of kids not watching too much TV” ploy.  Dear Bad Dad assumes your spouse was reading over your shoulder when you typed that.  Well played, sir.

Your question — “Does watching sports on television count as watching television?” — is what a Zen Buddhist calls a “koan,” as in, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”, or what a Hack Standup Comedian calls “my best material,” as in, “Didja ever notice that you park in a driveway and drive on a parkway? That’s the kind of wacky stuff I think about.”

There is a simple answer: No way in Hell does watching sports with your kids count as watching television.  Like how eating an entire box of Fat Free Fig Newtons does not count as breaking your diet. They’re fat free, right?

Sports, though on television, are not even close to kids’ television programming.  Why?  Because unlike Spongebob Montana the Explorer, sports are the purest distillation of life itself.  (To be clear, Dear Bad Dad defines “sports” as “team competitions which involve speed, brute force and physical aggression, ideally all three.  Even better if there are cheerleaders involved.”  So let’s just move along curling, men’s figure skating, and any-game-where-everybody-gets-a-trophy-and-everybody-ties.”  Nothing for you to see here.)

When your kids watch televised sports with you, they see life’s riches: the rewards of striving for excellence, the affirmation of teammates’ camaraderie, and the happiness of Daddy when you get him a beer.  You also pass along traditions, you pass along nostalgia and, if any of that sinks in, you pass along the family’s season tickets which they damn well better NOT sell on eBay after you die.  Sports on TV have brought together generations of Dads and their children through memories of The Miracle on Ice, of the Immaculate Reception, the Catch and the Drive, and of Michael Jordan eliminating Cleveland, Utah, and “bacon neck” on t-shirts.

Yet for all the thrills of victory, there are also the agonies of defeat, of disappointment, and of the hard truth that sports — and by extension, life — do not always have storybook endings.  Just ask the United States’ World Cup soccer team about their “3-2 win” against Slovenia.  Or Armando Galarraga about his “perfect game.”  Thanks to situations like these, sports on TV will impart a very important lesson to your kids: have as little respect as possible for authority and rules, because ultimately, they’ll just screw you.  Just ask “President Al Gore.”  You know, the guy who “won” with “the majority of the popular vote.”

Bottom line: Tune in with your kids, Sean. You’ll all have plenty to bond over and talk about for years and years … especially since your spouse will no longer be speaking to you because you spend so much damn time watching sports on TV with your kids.

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