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Long: Lessons I taught my dad



I liked watching sports as a kid. Scratch that. I was obsessed with watching sports as a kid.

As a 14-year-old I took solace in NFL statistics, EA Sports video games, fantasy football, NBA on TNT and college football depth charts.

Most 14-year-old boys’ lives are pretty predictable as they lack the freedom of a driver’s license and basic knowledge of how to interact with the opposite sex, while possessing a curfew of single digits.

My life was uber predictable. When I wasn’t watching a ridiculously terrible Adam Sandler@@http://www.adamsandler.com/@@ comedy movie on a Friday night, I was in front of my computer or television studying. I wasn’t studying for anything school related though. I was checking injury updates, waiver wires, lineup changes, trade rumor mills, etc. on my computer or watching a game on TV.

I liked playing sports, and I was mediocre at them, but I preferred watching them (insert extremely cliché sports journalist joke here). My dad was worried for me. Not because I was some obese couch potato or airhead gamer, but because if I was talking, it was about sports.

One night, he switched off the television and turned to me. He explained to me that he was worried I cared too much about the sports world and was missing out on other things. He wanted me to be more “cultured” and to cut back on ravenous sports intake.

The man had jumped right on top of my passion and was attempting to crush it. I tried to take it well, but I was devastated. This was a guy who always had my best interest in mind, I looked to for advice and was a warm and caring father. He told me to slow up on what I enjoyed most and man did it hurt. It was hard for me to understand the lesson in this.

He told me he was going to take me to see a play in downtown, to expose me to some “culture.”

We saw a live performance of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I indulged him and had a decent time. But if this was what I was missing away from the sports world that he wanted me to step away from, then normal life sucked.

I tried to cut back on talking about sports around him, but I didn’t axe any of my usual fandom.

My dad is from Australia, where sports are vital but being a fan of professional or college sports means cheering when you are at games and being able to name a few players on the squads. Rugby dominates, Aussie Rules has a large following and cricket has its place. The population limits the amount of professional teams there are, and isolated geography means international play is seasonal. Being a sports fan in the land down under wasn’t and isn’t what it is like in the U.S.A.

Here in America, we have it all — professional and college. Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, among a litany of others, dominate the headlines and conversation in this country. We are allowed to be know-it-alls on athletics.

So maybe he didn’t get it because he hadn’t grown up in this culture. And maybe I went overboard in my sports consumption. But seven years later, it turns out I taught him a lesson.

As my love of sports continued and my writing career began to flourish, my dad played along. He gradually became a Duck football fan and helped me select this university based on my career goal of being a sports journalist. He likes what makes me happy, and writing about sports does just that.

So this weekend when my dad comes to visit for the Colorado game, his fifth trip to Autzen Stadium, now as a huge Duck supporter, he will get to see his plan that backfired.

Yes, I have loosened my grip on the sports-osphere. I have become a diverse, social and well-spoken communicator that can carry on about any number of topics.

But my love of sports has put me here, writing this column, and on Saturday when my dad walks up to Autzen and gets handed a copy of Emerald Gameday (that thing a lot of you use as a rain shield), he will see the cover story was written by me. Maybe if he reads it he can get a bit more “cultured.”


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Jackson Long

Jackson Long