Happy Father’s Day. My Beautiful Reward.


Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there.  I think that most of us would agree that our Fathers played a fairly significant role in our lives in many areas, but none more than in sports.  I know in my family growing up that’s how it was for me with my Dad and my older brother around, there was never a void of sports talk.  Even while growing up in Chicago and having to endure the Cubs breaking our hearts every summer, and the Blackhawks and Bulls never quite seeming to be able to fulfill their goals.  It may have been because of those facts that our teams continued to disappoint, that we always had something to dissect.

Fortunately because of my Dad and Brother, when it came to baseball, we had another team to cheer for…..  The Baltimore Orioles, who were fortunate to have won a few World Series Championships in our lifetime.  My Dad won tickets to the 1966 World Series in Baltimore and took my brother ( I was too young) to see the upstart Orioles sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Frank and Brooks Robinson leading the way. When it came to hockey however, we were all Blackhawks.  From Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito to Jeremy Roenick, Ed Belfour and Chris Chelios, we were devoted to the Hawks. Until I moved to Florida in 1993 I never dreamed of rooting for another team.

I had a very special relationship with my Dad, and truth be told it mostly centered around sports, but it was a bond that helped me in other ways in life as well.  He took me to my first hockey game during a blizzard in Chicago.  I don’t know what I was more enthralled with…..seeing Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita in person for the first time, or the fact that the blizzard didn’t stop us from getting there.  We attended Cubs games on weekends as he split a weekend ticket plan with a co-worker.  Going to Wrigley Field with my Dad was a special Saturday event that I always looked forward to in the summer, just as I would look forward to going to the Chicago Stadium on those cold winter nights.

My habits, both good and bad, were formed on those days and nights with him.  In many ways we are alike in our passion for our sports teams.  Love them till the end, no matter how disappointed they make us feel.  He also taught me one important lesson that I wish more people would adhere to.  Never leave a game early.  Ever.  That’s right, stay till the end.  No rush to get home or beat the traffic, or leave cause we couldn’t stand the beating our team was taking.  It amazes me today how many fans will spend hundreds of dollars to get to a game sit through most of it and then leave with five minutes left.  But hey, that’s their problem and their money.  Not mine.

He also taught me at an early age and through my teenage years that the togetherness a team shares can sometimes take them significantly farther than a team with better talent.  Sound like something you can relate to this year?  Both he and my brother (who’s a Dad himself) developed my old school thinking of how athlete’s should act and behave, and that sometimes their irrational behavior on the field, ice or court, as well as locker and dressing room could bring a team down.  Players need to give 100% all the time.  Players need to be focused on playing their best no matter the circumstances.  If you gave 100%, you’ll never have to apologize for not playing better.  Act like a human being when you’re not playing the game as well.  Sign autographs, smile, and say hello when spoken to.  Nothing can tarnish a players image in the eyes of a fan when they are disrespectful to those of us that pay to watch them play.

With a child (young adult-she’s 18) of my own now, I’ve tried to pass on some of those traditions and beliefs, and continue many of the same rituals that were part of my younger years.  I think that Lil Miss Rat Trick has become quite the passionate sports fan in her own way from the upbringing of our family.  She has experienced the agony of defeat, as well as the joy of a championship.  I also think that she’s learned what it means to believe in a team, and have faith in their existence and their fight to be significant.

Like me being a Cub and Hawks fan growing up, the Florida Panthers have given her (us) many of those same heartaches and disappointments.  But with their recent season of dramatic improvement, there’s more than just hope that they’ll continue their rise.  While I’ve tried to influence her with some of my beliefs as a father, I know that she’ll also need to make her own choices of what type of player she gravitates to, and what kind of expectations she sets for herself in the teams and players that become her favorites.  I’ll never forget her marching up the stairs to her room and slamming her bedroom door after the Blackhawks lost to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.  I also won’t forget how happy she was when the Florida Panthers clinched the division this season, and made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.  She celebrated the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory a couple seasons ago, and wants that same feeling of joy and satisfaction that I showed when the Hawks finally won, for the Panthers.  We all do.

With my Dad being gone for 19 years, Father’s Day for me has always been sort of melancholy.  I admit that I miss him, but I know that for my daughter’s sake, he lives on through me.  With all my good and bad habits, she has an idea of the man he was.  Knowing however that I have her to share today with makes Father’s Day a very special day.  As proud as my Father was of me, I’m just as proud of her.

I leave you with a favourite photo of mine, and this song by Bruce Springsteen.

Happy Father’s Day.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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