What I Really Love About College Football
Fall is my favorite season. Along with the just-turning foliage, comes the return of my preferred spectator sport – college football. My passion stems from the Friday Night Lights elements of my upbringing and the four years I spent in Austin at the University of Texas. I am a genuine Longhorn fan and spent many happy game days at the UT Stadium. But the real reason I love college football is that our son, a college senior, is a big fan, too. Now a fun and shared pastime, following the sport during his teenage years was more like a lifeline that kept our relationship afloat.
While he was in high school, our son developed the evasive skills that all teenagers acquire fielding questions from well-meaning neighbors, family members, and perfect strangers. Where do you want to go to college/ have you taken your SATs/ what do you want to major in? Against that backdrop of inquisition, we had moments when our disagreements over studying, tests, and college applications would have made for excellent reality television. More recently, we have had a few “animated discussions” as we both adjust to his young adulthood status.
When he was very young, I taught our son The Eyes of Texas and we clapped together to Texas Fight. I told him stories about Bevo, the longhorn steer. Whenever we watch the games and flash the hook’ em horns gesture, I remember him being very young and singing along with me. During all of the times we’ve talked about UT football and shared in the traditions, we’ve created an emotional bond. Whenever we have watched Texas play on TV or, even the few times when we traveled to the UT stadium, that bond has been strengthened.
So when I read advice about how to stay close to your teenager at a time when their job is to push back from their parents, or what not to say or ask your young adult children, I want to suggest a short list for topics to discuss. Actually, it is a very short list:
1) Shared sports team
Whether it is college football, professional baseball, or a soccer team somewhere around the world, being a fan with your child may provide you with a go-to topic when others become too charged with pressure and emotion. While you might not need a safety subject to rally around when your child is six, you can count on needing it at 16. Once your kids hit their 20s, the team mascot will feel like one of your oldest friends.