Parenting

My daughter has no interest in sports

After many failed attempts to get Elissa involved in sports, Ian wonders if there was a mix-up in the delivery room

Photo by u16panthers via Flickr

In a lot of ways, our daughter Elissa is a like a miniature version of me.

She’s got dark brown eyes, a photographic memory and a real desire to make people laugh.

But there is one glaring difference in our personalities, which has made me suspicious that perhaps there was a mix-up in the delivery room.

At the age of seven, Elissa has absolutely no interest in sports.

When I was seven years old — in the summer of 1984 — I could name for you the entire starting rotation for the Detroit Tigers, the lineup of the Montreal Canadiens and the MVP of every Super Bowl that had been played up to that point.  

Elissa, on the other hand, could not name three teams that play in the NHL.

Everybody tells me that I should keep exposing her to sports and eventually she’ll become a fan. But I’ve tried almost everything imaginable with absolutely no success.

I have taken her to our basement to play mini-hockey on several occasions. But after a few minutes, she inevitably loses interest and we end up either performing a puppet show or having a tea party.

I’ve taken her to professional sporting events, but she’s only excited about getting a hot dog and a souvenir. Once she’s been to the gift shop inside the stadium, she’s ready to leave at any time.

I bought her an NHL sticker book this year, hoping that we could combine our two passions: Hockey and stickers. But a few days ago, I found a crumpled Jaromir Jagr sticker behind the couch and I realized she was not engaged with this new hobby.

When a hockey game is on television at our house, I will try and entice her with the names of the two teams playing. “Hey Elissa, check this out. The Sharks and Penguins are playing against each other right now.”

She’ll look at the screen for 30 seconds and then head to our extensive DVD collection, to find either Shark Tale or March Of The Penguins.  And before you know it, the cartoon voice of Will Smith has replaced the play-by-play of my hockey game on the screen.  

How — you might ask — could the apple fall so far from the tree? You would think that genetics would play a factor here. I’m a walking sports encyclopedia, so surely some of my daughter’s DNA would include my passion for hockey. Instead, she couldn’t be more disinterested — which makes me question the family bloodlines. This is tantamount to Kim Jong Il’s son openly embracing American Idol.

Well, upon further inspection, perhaps there is a logical explanation for this after all — and genetics do play a factor.

On Super Bowl Sunday this month, I decided to quiz my wife and ask her if she knew who was playing in the biggest game of the year.

She contemplated this question and I could see her mental wheels turning, as she scoured her brain for any sports information that may have accidentally been planted there.

After a few moments of deliberation and with a completely straight-face, she responded with, “The Cleveland Indians.”

Those words hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity, as Sonia patiently awaited my approval.

After staring at her face for 30 seconds, I realized that she was not joking.

Her best guess of who was involved in the NFL’s championship game was a team that played baseball in the American League’s Central Division.

I had one of those moments from the end of The Sixth Sense, where suddenly everything started to come into focus.

Elissa is like me in a lot of ways — but she’s also a miniature version of Sonia as well. And as you might guess, Sonia has no interest in sports.

In fact, when her dad used to take her to Edmonton Oilers games as a kid, she freely admits she only went along for the food. In her mind, Gretzky and Messier played second fiddle to hot dogs and nachos. Sound familiar?

History is repeating itself here, as Elissa follows Sonia’s path of Brownies over the Cleveland Browns.

Sonia and I have been together for 16 years now and I haven’t been able to convert her into a sports fan in the least bit. I’ve had seven years to work on Elissa, with no success.

I’ve only had four years to work on our youngest daughter Lily — but given my track record in this area — I fear it’s already too late for her as well.

What about you? Do you have a child who doesn’t share one of your main interests? How do you deal with it?

Photo by u16panthers via Flickr