How my son taught me to enjoy sports—sort of

Susan Goldberg realizes she doesn't have to like sports in order to enjoy spending time with her son.

1KidsSports-January2014-iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

Thunder Bay, Ont. writer Susan Goldberg is a transplanted Torontonian and one of two mothers to two boys. Follow along as she shares her family’s experiences.

Two things you may not know about me:

First: I am not sporty. I’m especially not team-sporty. I’ve always been the black sheep in my family in this regard. At home, the television was permanently set to The Sports Network. In the car, the radio was always covering the latest baseball game. My brother played competitive hockey his entire life (and now coaches my nephews’ teams), and my parents — bless them — were thrilled to watch all his games and practices. All of them. Every. Last. One. And then there was me, left to be a rinkrat while my brother played endless games of hockey. Not that I’m bitter about this.

Second: I win things. Not (so far) big things, like the lottery (although that would be nice), but smaller stuff, like electronic devices (to date, a cellphone, a digital camera, a Sony Walkman), and books, and tickets to events. In December, for example, I won five bottles of wine in a local fundraiser (which was totally awesome). And last week, because I just couldn’t resist putting my name into the draw, I won two tickets to see the Lakehead University Thunderwolves play hockey against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

Me with two tickets to the hockey game.

Ha.

Left my own devices, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to go, but the excellent thing is that my aversion to team sports seems to have skipped a generation. So when I came home and told Rowan that he and I would be going to our collective first-ever hockey game, he was thrilled. Which made me a little bit more thrilled.

“Will you even know what you’re watching?” Rachel asked me, in what I thought was an unnecessary show of nonconfidence.

I rolled my eyes. “A bunch of guys with sticks want to get the puck into the other guys’ net. And vice versa. What else is there to know?”

She just sighed.

And so Rowan and I went off last Friday night in the middle of a snowstorm, him chattering away in the back seat about which team he thought would win — the Thunderwolves, obviously, loyal home boy that he is — and by how much. Inside the arena, he continued to be thrilled about everything: the popcorn, the music, the karaoke, the “Chuck-a-puck” contest, the mascots — and, of course, the game itself.

I will give varsity hockey this much: those guys can skate. Like, really skate. What I admittedly didn’t understand about the game (“Um, how many periods in a hockey game? Asking for a friend,” I telegraphed out onto Facebook) was eclipsed by the beauty of watching so many bodies move so effortlessly across the ice, weaving through each other, backwards and forwards, and only occasionally colliding. Whereupon, of course, they punched each other, kind of like my own children do. Guys, I wanted to tell them, it’s only a game.

As for my profound disinterest in the game, well, that was eclipsed by watching Rowan watch it. Which he did, like a hawk, all the while shovelling handfuls of popcorn into his mouth, narrating the game for me, and answering back to the commentator’s commentary. He tried to point out instances of icing and high-sticking to me, although I never quite saw what he saw. He thought it was in poor taste to play the Georgia Satellites’ “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” when a player got a penalty. (“That’s like teasing them,” he said. I had to agree.) He whooped each time the Wolves scored a goal, and cheered and hollered with the rest of us when they won the game, 3-1, scoring their last goal on the Varsity Blues’ empty net — apparently, their goalie got a penalty, although neither Rowan nor I could figure out the logic of just how that could have happened.

And then we came home, happy and tired.

And I still don’t care a whit about hockey. But I did love going to the game with my son.

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