Raising Kids as a Detroit Sports Fan

It’s baseball season (or at least something resembling baseball season), and I can do something that feels like a right of passage – watch baseball with my kids. So far my kids exposure to me watching sports has been last year’s March Madness and football season. I don’t watch hardly as much sports as I did before I had kids. The most obvious reason is not having the time, but perhaps an even larger factor has been that I am fan of all the Detroit teams – and they have been a complete dumpster fire.

To this point the most sports my kids have seen me watch is during last year’s March Madness. This gave them the basic knowlege that dad watches basketball, which meant that ever since then if I am watching any sport, they say I am watching basketball. I once tried to correct my daughter that no, I’m actually watching football. This lead to a 20 minute back and forth of “Basketball!” – “Football!” To this day she’ll ask to play the game where we say “Basketball! Football!” It has been their biggest exposure to sports.

But with a new baseball season comes new hope and I am suckered back in. I watched a few innings with my son, but seeing as he is only 4 months old I don’t think he quite picked up on the nuances of the game. My 4 year old daughter however, did show some interest and askd some questions – mostly “what’s his name?” Apparently the what and they why are not as important to figure out as the who.

Though I wonder – once my kids are old enough to ask who I’m watching, should I give them the opportunity to watch somebody worth watching? If so, it certaintly won’t be any of the teams I follow.

The Tigers – I Just Can’t Help Myself

Honestly, the odds of me not pushing Tigers fandom on my kids is pretty low. Even though they have been bad for the vast majority of my lifetime, I just can’t help it. They are my team, and they will be theirs. I don’t even know what realistic alternative options would be. In most cases geography would be a factor, but I’m certainly not letting my kids root for another team in the same division. Being in West Michigan there is a descent amount of Cub fan spillover, but ever since they finally won a World Series they feel like too much of a bandwagon team. If I’m going to let my kids abandon the Tigers they better do it for somebody like the Pirates or Padres so they can be just as miserable as me.

The Pistons – Depends on the Year

I liked watching basketball when I was growing up, it was great time for the sport. Jordan was Jordan. Barkley was uncivilized. Larry Johnson was Grandmama. The Pistons were transitioning from the Bad Boys to the Grant Hill years. Their style of play of physical, the uniforms were teal, and the NBA on NBC had the greatest sports theme ever. What a time to be alive. But Grant Hill couldn’t do it all by himself, and my fandom faded. Until Ben Wallace came to down and the Pistons went work. They won and I watched. If they win again, I’ll watch again, but I’m sure not going to introduce my kids to the NBA as it is today without a rooting interest in the Pistons. Show my kids what basketball at the highest level is by showing them James Harden? I’d rather them watch me play pop-a-shot.

The Red Wings – Meh

Like everybody else my age, I went and saw Mighty Ducks when it came out and got into hockey for about 6 months. The Wings were consistenlty good for most of my youth, so watching a local team win the championship was fun. They even let us watch some of a game in school one time – when Yzerman beat the Blues in OT. A good time was had by all, and thus concluded my hockey watching. If my kids want to watch the Wings, neat. If they don’t, that’s cool too. If they find another team to follow, I don’t really care, but I think I would prefer for them to root for a Canadian team. I don’t know why.

The Lions – Not on My Watch

Part of being a parent is hoping that you are able use what you’ve learned from your experience and mistakes to teach your kids. You want them avoid the misfortune you’ve endured. You want them to not have to deal with things like misery and disappointment. Misery and disappointment have been the official sponsors of Detroit Lions football since the Eisenhower administration. I will not subject them to it. I barely subject myself to it anymore. For the last few seasons I watch only to the point where I am certain the Lions will lose. Sometimes that’s 4 quarters, sometimes that’s 4 minutes. Sometimes that’s 4 days before the game. If they want to watch other teams play football, I won’t stop them. But much like the NBA, if the style of play continues on the path it’s on I don’t think it will be worth watching anyway.

Ultimately, kids will like what they like. Maybe my girls will love the Lions anyway. Maybe the boy will like obscure Olympic sports. I could find a worse way to spend my time than hanging out with my son watching handball. But I do know this – no matter what their interest level in sports ends up being, if they don’t learn how to keep a clean scorecard at a baseball game, I have failed them.

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