Friday, November 2, 2007

Kids & Boston Sports

I have been asked several times this week how it must be good to be a Boston sports fan right now. To back up for a minute, the Red Sox are world champions, the Pats are undefeated, the Boston College Eagles are the #2 team in the country and the Celtics are the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and try and nail down that elusive 17th title. So the answer is an obvious 'yes, it's freaking great!". It did get me thinking about past seasons, though. The Sidney Wicks era at the Garden. The Patsies era in Foxboro and pretty much every year from 1968 - 74 at the Fens. No one ever asked me then how much it must suck to be a Boston sports fan.

Don't get me wrong... it DID suck. And then in the years that we would rise up for the briefest of moments we would run smack into the Big Red Machine or the Edmonton Oilers or Sugar Bear Hamilton would be called for a phantom roughing the passer call against the Raiders (yes, Raider fans, the 'tuck rule' game was indeed payback for that call - live with it as we had to!). Those were tough times. I distinctly remember the end of game 7 of the 1975 World Series. I was at my grandparent's house and when the Sox lost I cried my 10-year old head off. The Sox, more than any other New England team, become part of your DNA and it was this dubious gift I passed along to my children.

Flash forward to 2003 and Aaron F. Boone comes to the plate against Tim Wakefield and drills a knuckleball about a million rows up into the left field stands and we lose again. Not just lose, of course, but lose in the most painful way possible. My own 10-year old trudges upstairs to go to bed and I go up to check on him. He's brushing his teeth and I ask him if he's OK. He takes the toothbrush out of his mouth and just collapses on me sobbing. In that instant I was horrified. What did I pass along to my son? It was like some sort of mutant gene that was destined to haunt Grevelises for generations. I left the house after putting him to bed under the guise of needing to get something to eat, but really I drove around and was on the verge of tears myself. My own child! We live in Las Vegas for Christ's sake - he could be a Dodger fan, a Diamondback fan, a Padre fan... But no, I passed along this disease to my offspring.

Of course, 2004 comes and that changes the world for all of us. The Pats win 3 of four Super Bowls and then, heaven forbid, the Sox win again only 3 years later. Now Benjamin is almost 12 and Forrest is 7 and the world they live in is a world in which the Red Sox DO win it all; the Patriots are the patsies no more and are even considered bullies; the Celtics have new hope with KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce; BC has a shot at a national title and even the Bruins sport a winning record. This is the kind of world my kids are living in. I no longer feel like failure dad anymore - at least not for these reasons - but I feel kind of like a parent should feel when their kids don't have to experience the pain and suffering they have. I know, this kind of pain and suffering is nothing compared to hunger, pestilence, etc., but that's kind of the point. If my kids are spared even the kind of sports pain that comes with being a Sox fan last century (as well as spared real pain and deprivation), what a nice start you have to your life. Their psyche will never feel second best and that winning is not only possible, it's now probable. Hopefully that kind of confidence will infect them and allow them to enter each challenge they face with confidence in the ability to get the job done and not having the nagging thought that they may only be second best.

Thanks, Boston, for a job well done.

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