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Day 20: Baby’s First Officially Licensed Merchandise

August 28, 2010
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About 3 days ago, my wife spoke with her father who was extremely excited about a purchase he had made for our new arrival.  He was a little groggy when we informed him of our pregnancy, likely due to the late hour at which the news was delivered.  He has been progressively enthusiastic about it ever since, culminating in his joyful purchase of the first piece of clothing anyone has bought for our child.

Packer pajamas

Green Bay Packers baby pajamas.

We’re a full seven months from delivery and the sports indoctrination of my child has already begun…but I thought that was MY job.

I’ve always felt that a young sport’s fan decision to follow a certain team is a critical choice for social standing.  When growing up in Staten Island, I very rarely spent any considerable time in the same circles as Yankee fans.  In intermediate school, students segregated themselves not by ethnic or economic status but the choice to be a Devils, Rangers or Islanders fan.

Not all parts of the country are as athletically divided as the New York area, but even here in California’s San Joaquin Valley you have choices?  Perhaps even more than anywhere else.  Angels, Dodgers or Padres?  Raiders, Chargers or Niners?  USC, UCLA or (GASP) Fresno State?

My choices were influenced primarily by my father’s connection to the National League team of his childhood and his stories of playing stickball in the street with Duke Snider in his Brooklyn neighborhood.  My wife’s choice to align with the Angels traces back to her connection with her grandfather despite her father’s dedication to the Padres.  Later professional experience and geographical proximity to the Boston-based teams during my college years helped to broaden my appreciation of the area’s franchises.

Our child will have plenty of pitches from our family.  We’re going to be  geographically off-centered, with relatives’ influence pouring in from New England, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and California.  There will be no shortage of experiences for our child to draw from.

I also wonder whether I would simply be tampering by trying to push one direction or another.  I always thought strangely of Cowboys fans in Staten Island because I wondered where their personal connection with a team headquartered over 2000 miles away originated.  What right did they have to celebrate a team that never required an emotional attachment?

As it turned out, two of my uncles are Cowboys fans; one married into the family and is a NYC firefighter and the other eventually married a girl from Dallas and settled down in Plano.  They made their choice on their own, locally unpopular, stuck with it and turned out all right.

I know that I will eventually have to allow my child to make decisions on their own.  I can attempt to impart my own wisdom and advice, but ultimately if I’ll have any faith in my parenting abilities, I’ll have to back away and support those choices, trusting that they’ve made an informed decision.

So I’ve concluded that my kid will have ample opportunity to decide which teams to align with on the condition that the choice they make should be well thought out and explained; the choice of teams is only important if you stick with it.

Regardless of my own personal biases, unborn son or daughter, you can depend on me to accept your allegiance.

Unless you decide to be a Yankees fan; then you go to rehab.

DR

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