Fatherly duties for a sports nut

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Sunday I celebrated my second Father’s Day as a dad.

With my wife at work, my 14-month-old son, Samuel, and I had a full day of guy time.

We watched TV, we napped, we got food stains on our shirts, we played ball.

It’s his favorite word, ball, and when he sees one he has to have it.

Naturally, I’m proud.

I figured if his love for sports continues I’m going to have to do all I can to nurture it. It’s my duty as a father after all.

So I came up with a list of some things I intend to do help lil’ Sam along:

I’ll teach him to be a humble winner and a gracious loser.

I’ll show him how to throw a tight spiral and a nasty curve ball.

I’ll put up a basketball goal in the driveway.

And because every kid should get the chance to dunk like a madman, I’ll make sure its low enough so he can throw down a tomahawk jam.

I’ll watch him try to be just like his sports heroes and then I’ll tell him about Joe Montana, Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson.

I’ll tell him there’s more to life than just balls and strikes, and tell him it’s called blocking and tackling.

I’ll chase ghost runners around the back yard.

I’ll tell him to keep his head down and stay in front of the ball even though it means he’ll take a few off the chin.

I’ll take him to the football stadium at Shelby County High School on a Friday night, where maroon is the color and one is the number no matter the record, where boys are heroes and mammas are proud, where Don McLean surely visited before driving his Chevy to the levy.

I’ll show him the sideline, where not much has changed since the days when his grandmother cheered for the Wildcats and his grandfather scored touchdowns for them.

I’ll tell him even though they’re different than us, kickers are people too.

I’ll take him to Auburn, buy him a Toomer’s lemonade and let him sit on my shoulders during a Tiger Walk. We’ll cheer loud enough to light up the tiger’s eyes at Jordan-Hare.

Then, when he’s older, I’ll go with him to an Alabama game (if he’s going to experiment, I at least want to be there to supervise).

I’ll go easy on him when he breaks the lamp because it’s raining outside and the ball somehow slipped out of his hand.

I’ll check him out from school unannounced and take him to a baseball game.

We’ll have a hot dog and split a bag of peanuts. And even if they don’t have Cracker Jacks we still won’t care about getting back.

And if by chance he doesn’t care about any of these things, if he’s not interested in sports at all, or even if he wants to play soccer, I will love him the same . . . I’ll just call him Samantha when his mother’s not around.

Ashley Vansant is sports editor at the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at mailto:ashley.vansant@shelbycountyreporter.com