Much has been and will be said about Superbowl 47. Not only was it the third most watched television program in U.S. Television history, but it was also perhaps one of the most dramatic games ever played! There was drama between the Harbaugh brothers, Ray Lewis’ tumultuous career coming to an end, a quarterback with only 10 starts all season, the lights in the Superdome going out and of course, Beyonce – there seemed to be a little something for everyone.
Like most Americans, I watched the game with my family in the comfort of our living room – and like most Americans, I thought the game was going to be a blowout, so my mind started to wander. Even if you take the Superbowl commercials out of the equation, last Sunday was a very male dominated day. Everything from the snack choice to where the game is watched, more often than not, is androcentric. Now, while I am not going to argue that having a male “holiday” such as the Superbowl is a bad thing, I do wonder, like I often do with a lot of things, how our children interpret such a day – especially our daughters.
For a lot of dads of both sons and daughters, the Superbowl (NBA finals, World Series, etc) is often a time where the love of the sport is directly transferred onto our children through the watching of such an event. Such was the case for my daughter and I while watching the Superbowl. As much as the attention span of a 4 year old would allow, I would explain the action in terms she was able to understand. And, if you were paying any attention to social media during the Superbowl, it looks like I wasn’t the only dad sharing their love of the game with their children. But it dawned on me, other than the cheerleaders and perhaps a few sideline reporters, there were no other women represented during this entire event. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that this was a football game and by virtue of the sport, there isn’t a whole lot of female involvement – but my bigger point is, when it comes to sports, especially on this scale, where are all the women?
It’s all too common to watch a sporting event like the Superbowl with your son and have delusions of grandeur that he will grow up to be the next Flacco or Kapernick but can we dads honestly say we have the same delusions about our daughters? And what does that say to our daughters who are interested in sports or are naturally athletic? I fear that the message our daughters are getting is, your love for sport or your athletic inclinations are just that, feelings that will not really amount to anything I would be interested in watching and getting passionate about. Whoa, that’s a little rough…what I am trying to say is, as dad and parents, we want to embrace and foster our children’s interests, no matter what they are. One way of doing that is by displaying an interest or passion in what they are interested or passionate about – and sports should be no different.
So at this point, the soccer moms and the hockey dads are about to tune me out because this is what they do on a daily basis – they might even argue that they are very extreme when it comes to their child’s sports. While I think, in moderation, it is great to be supportive of our children’s athletic pursuits, I feel that our daughters specifically deserve to be exposed to what their hard work and practice can amount to – that their passion for sports is not just a hobby that will have to be given up for more “realistic” feminine pursuits. And what better way to do that than to expose her to female professional sports – not in a patronizing “look at these girls playing sports…so cute” but in a way that celebrates the athleticism of these women and the contribution they make to professional sports.
Let’s be clear, I do not believe that there is anything wrong with my daughter developing a love for football, or any other sport for that matter, but I am realistic enough to know that her ability to pursue involvement – should she choose to and mom allows – will only go so far in some sports. And believe me, I am all for gender equality in sports and I would hope that one day in my daughter’s lifetime there would be true equality, but that’s another post for another day. Should my daughter develop a love for soccer (you should see her dribble) she’ll know that if she works hard and applies herself, perhaps she can make it to the Olympics. Or, if she chooses to pursue basketball (due to her height and her natural shooting abilities) she can become a Lady Bruin and even play in the WNBA – the skies are her limit!
So in the meantime, I am pledging to balance my enjoyment of sports (I see a Sparks or Lady Bruin game in the very near future for us) all in an effort to show my daughter that athletes come in all shapes and sizes and genders. When it comes to sports do you seek to strike a balance for your children? If so, how do you achieve that balance?