A few weeks after my son was born, I was sitting with him in my living room watching television and decided it was time to begin his education.
There’s been all kinds of research about how reading to your kids even while they’re still in the womb benefits their intellectual development.* You’re supposed to read to them, sing to them, play music for them and basically do anything that would annoy you if you were trying to sleep as a way to stimulate their tiny little neurons and synapses. By encouraging brain development, you’re preparing your baby for more conventional learning later on. All that being said, the education I had in mind had nothing to do with any of this.
It was time to teach him about Chicago sports.
I was born in Chicago. When I was a kid, since there was no Internet, the only ways to consume sports were through television and the newspaper. As a result, in spite of my parents’ attempts to raise a Philadelphia fan (see: pictures of me wearing Phillies hats as a little kid or my family watching the 76ers in the playoffs after my brit milah**), I went with the primary media exposure and started following Chicago teams. I was born on the north side of town, which means I went to baseball games at Wrigley Field and became a Cubs fan (the fact that Andre “The Hawk” Dawson hit home runs the three times I saw the Cubs in person certainly didn’t hurt, either). I was also born in the early 80s, which means that by the time I was able to understand basketball, Michael Jordan was beginning his run of dominance through the NBA; thus, a Bulls fan was born. And when the only football team you can consistently watch on Sundays is the Bears, that’s where your allegiance goes.***
Today’s world is different, though. You can watch just about any game you want through cable sports packages and Internet subscriptions. The rise of national sports networks, like ESPN, TNT (during basketball season) and NBC Sports (hello hockey playoffs!) makes it easier to watch out of market teams more often, especially if the teams are competitive. Also, Chicago television station WGN is broadcast nationwide and they air significant amounts of Cubs games throughout the season. Even without watching any of the games, the Internet allows you to follow just about any team from anywhere.
I’ll write other posts about the individual lessons, including my lecture to a sleeping baby about the heartache associated with being a Cubs fan. This was just an introduction to the sports portion of this blog. I should also note that I figured I should write something about sports, especially since we got news that Brian Urlacher retired from the NFL after 13 seasons with the Chicago Bears (and you can bet I’ll bring him up when I write about the Bears later).
*I don’t have any of that research readily available, partially because I’m writing this post on the subway without Internet access and partially because I don’t care enough to go find it. Just trust me – the research has been done.
**Hebrew word for the ceremony of an 8-day-old baby boy getting circumcised.
***I left the Blackhawks out on purpose. Although they were a competitive playoff team in the early 90s behind stars like Jeremy Roenick and Ed Belfour, I didn’t really start following hockey until I was in middle school.