Against my better judgement, I did tune into the Super Bowl on Sunday to see the bandwagon team of the 2000s (Patriots) take on the bandwagon team of the 2010s (Seahawks) with the bandwagon team of the 90s (Cowboys) thankfully eliminated weeks ago.
This was the first full game I watched all season, because as you may have read a few months ago, I’m basically done with NFL football. And, I haven’t really missed it, as Sunday’s game - exciting as the finish proved to be - proved to me.
A quick recap of why I felt that I had to cut ties with the NFL. First of all, I have been a life-long fan of the Washington Redskins, (I’ll leave my thoughts on their nickname for another time). As I approached my 31st birthday this fall, I was struck with an unfortunate realization. Deadskins owner Dan Snyder bought the team when I was 15-years-old, and I was about to turn 31, meaning that he’d owned the team for more than half my life. Plus, he’s only 50 and is already the worst owner in sports - no small feat, sadly the only thing of note this franchise has won in more than 20 years - so I was going to be saddled with him for potentially 40 more years. I couldn’t bear the thought of being a 71-year-old fan wallowing in my own misery, so I had to get out.
Then, it grew to something more. With a daughter on the way, I had a harder and harder time reconciling the fact that I have spent more than two decades spending time and money on a league that has repeatedly shown that it does not care about women. It only slightly cares about men, and that’s mostly because they make up the majority of those spending and betting their money on football.
So instead, as you’ve likely read before, I made the switch to actual football a.k.a soccer. This has been a real revelation, and has become one of my favourite pass times in just a few short months, and only slightly because of what happens on the pitch.
My wife Kate is a dynamite mother and works hard all week with Abby, so on weekend mornings, I try and take the baby and our two dogs and give her the rare chance to have the bedroom entirely to herself, if only for a few hours. And as for the four of us, we watch soccer on TV, and luckily sometimes games start as early as 6 a.m.
These precious moments with my precious little girl are always the highlight of my week, even if she does spend a lot of her time sleeping, we have our moments of wakefulness with her diligently following the action back-and-forth on the screen, with visions of her daddy pacing the sidelines at her own soccer games in just a few years possibly dancing in her head.
As well, since we cheer for Chelsea, we often have many reasons to cheer. This is a far cry from when I used to root for Washington. Although, I am still an active observer of the ongoing tragedy that is Toronto Maple Leafs hockey.
I had a conversation recently with my friend Jim, and I lamented that it really worried me that I was going to raise my daughter as a Leafs fan. I’m old enough to know better - but, Abby is just a baby - is it really fair for me to subject her to the same life-long misery and self-loathing that I’ve brought upon myself through all these years of cheering for the Leafs?
When I think that maybe we’d be better off changing our family allegiances to the Buffalo Sabres - it’d be easier and cheaper to get tickets - I’m taken back to what got me cheering for the Leafs in the first place, it definitely wasn’t on-ice success, it was the shared experience of watching with my family and how our fandom brought us all just a little closer together.