The fans of the South Eastern Conference take their college football very seriously. Year in and year out they lead the country, dominating overall attendance records. In 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 the conference drew more than 5.5 million fans at its home games; a national record for a conference. Football Fanatics, you bet, and they wear the badge proudly.
I on the other hand reside at the other end of this spectrum. My parents were not sports people and it simply was not part of our family structure. I would half-heartedly follow our local sports teams but only if it was convenient. If the game was on and I happened to be sitting in front of the television then great, or if there was a radio handy I might tune in. Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned the journey on which I would embark with my own child.
Like most baby-boom-era parents my wife Stacy and I were determined to expose our children to everything we could from sports to music to dance to theatre to whatever. Following the generational trend, we wanted to afford our kids those things that we simply did not have available to us as children. It is amazing how much has changed over the course of only a few decades. What really accentuated this point was one Christmas when Santa brought a Game-Boy for Willy, my eldest of three; while he was sitting there on the floor playing Ninja Turtles he looked up at me and asked if I played Game-Boy when I was little? That simple, innocent question tells the whole tale. Game-Boy – PS2 – Xbox 360 – Wii, heck, all I had access to was Pong which came onto the scene when I was about eleven years old; my cousin had one so the only time I was able to play it was when I went to visit him. I try to explain to my children that the first time I had access to a computer was in college. We had to sign up for computer time which often was in the wee hours of the morning. They look at me, while texting a message to their friend, as if I am speaking a foreign language. Even our vocabulary has changed; is texting a proper word?
Growing up in the inner city during the late sixties – early seventies the only organized sporting activities available to me were baseball, basketball and football. Tennis and golf were primarily for those belonging to a country club, hockey and soccer simply did not exist and opportunities for swimming, track, wrestling and volleyball were not available until high school. Today children have instant access to the world and exposure to almost anything; baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming, scouting, piano, you name it. I told my children early on that they could participate in anything except football and boxing. My wife and I were determined that our children p