Monday, December 12, 2011

Fathers, Daughters, and Sports

My first post has to be about my dad, and after reading the book, Fathers & Daughters & Sports, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. This book is a collection of stories written by daughters and dads and their experiences. Most entries were written by former athletes and sports writers—from Rebecca Lobo and Chris Evert to Jim Craig, Sally Jenkins, and Bill Simmons.

My dad and me
I did share in my Why I Blog that I realized by calling was to write sports in third grade. However, I didn’t mention that originally I wanted to play first base for the Chicago Cubs. And, I didn’t talk my dad and the impact he had on me.

I went to my first Cubs and Brewers games the summer I turned seven. My dad said that he wouldn’t take me to a game until he was sure I could sit through the entire game—he wasn’t leaving early. (I guess there was a reason for this. I went to my first Racine Raiders football game with my brother, Tom, my Uncle Al, and some of my cousins. The Raiders were down big at the half and we were asked if we wanted to go home. I said yes and the Raiders came back to win the game. Let’s just say I will never live this one down!)
The Cubs were my favorite team, because they were my dad’s team. He was born in Chicago and lived on the West and North sides of town and was always a Cubs fan. His brother, my Uncle Manny, was a White Sox fan—and, if you are a Chicagoan, you know this isn’t an easy thing. I don’t know how they managed to stay so close. After all, if I switched allegiances Tom would disown me.

I remember my first Cubs game…well, I remember I got a Cubs baseball cap and I kept score—this was a ritual. My dad would buy me the scorecard and a golf pencil at the gate and he taught me how to keep score. I did this every game. Baseball was my favorite sport, just like my dad, and I decided that it would be cool to play first base for the Cubs. My dad never told me that girls don’t play professional baseball. He just let me figure this one out on my own.
Sports have always been a big thing in my family. I remember Saturdays in the fall watching college football games on TV and listening to the Wisconsin Badgers football game on the radio with my dad and Tom. That was the best! And, one of the reasons I became a sports writer. They taught me everything I know about sports. And, both of them have been the greatest influences on my life.

When I decided to become a sports writer my dad always supported me—he never said it would be a tough road because I was a woman or that I would struggle to make a living. He always told me I could do anything I wanted and to reach for my dreams. And, he was always proud of me.

I know that he is with me now and smiling as I am living my dream once again by writing this blog.
So, who has been the biggest influence in your life? And, what was the gift they gave you?