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Sep 19 2014

For the First Time Ever, I Want My Boys to Watch Football

By at 10:32 am

I am not a sports fan. I might even describe myself as the anti-sports fan. Occasional viewing is fine, and so is mild fandom, but for many years I neither encouraged nor approved of sports-obsessing. (In my mind the only things worth obsessing about are politics, Springsteen tour dates, and the odd celebrity scandal). It all seemed silly, pointlessly aggressive, and boorish (sports, not politics. OK, maybe both).

When I first got married I made my distaste for sports-watching immediately known–and no sport was more disdained by me than football. I must have read a New York Times editorial at some point in which I learned that domestic abuse cases spiked on Super Bowl Sunday. I would stand in between my husband and the game on the TV and announce this fact each time I found him watching. He wasn’t really enough of a fan to overcome the power of my withering glare and incessant preaching. Eventually, football went away.

It went away until my boys found it and brought it into our home with passion and glee. At first, I tried the same tactic that had worked so very well on my husband. I had no luck. A trusted friend advised me: If you can’t beat them, join them. They are going to watch it anyway; if you don’t get involved you’ll be cut out of the equation. I suppose this argument could be made to all sorts of things that I am not about to try watching with my boys (ahem), but for football, it worked. I watched. I followed. I encouraged their insane fandom. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 18 2014

How Do I Explain to My Sons That Some of Their NFL Heroes are Criminals?

By at 10:01 am


Football is a big deal in my house. Between my husband and three sons, there are seven fantasy football teams to root for. We have two Jets fans, one Giants fan, and one (ever hopeful but disappointed) Raiders fan. As you might imagine, it is not a quiet house. Especially on Sundays.

My 9-year-old son has a huge collection of football jerseys; he wears one to school each day, selecting it with care to coordinate with his fantasy players for the week. Recently, as I was hanging up his laundry, I perused his jerseys. Many belonged to players whose names I didn’t recognize. And then I came across three that I did: Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Michael Vick.

The jerseys were purchased when these players were football heroes on the field, before we knew of their (alleged) crimes against their wives, children, and animals. My boys looked up to these football stars and were proud to wear their jerseys. Unfortunately, these players instantly transformed from esteemed athletes to abusive criminals when their shocking stories were revealed.   Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 3 2012

Superbowl Snacks for Jews

By at 3:22 pm

briket slidersWhen I think about the Superbowl, I think of the gigantic-sized serving of matzah ball soup offered at Max & Benny’s, my favorite Jewish deli in Chicago. I guess other people might think of that big sports game where two teams of oversized men wear shiny leggings and knock each other out. Regardless, the one thing I’m pretty sure we can all agree on is that the best part about watching sports is eating snacks.

Over on The Nosher, Shannon Sarna has been posting some recipes for game day snacks that sound–and look–incredible. If you’re planning on whipping up anything for the big game, we highly recommend you check these out:

Chicken Wings Two Ways: Featuring both traditional and sweet-and-spicy Asian wings.

“Marry Me” Brisket Sliders: So good, if you serve to your intended, they will definitely fall in love.

Kosher Stuffed Potato Skins: Ditching the regular bacon topping for some veggie chili.

Happy cooking, and yay for sports!

Dec 1 2011

Is It Something Only Moms Can Understand?

By at 1:06 pm

football playersI have always loved football. Professional or college; it doesn’t really matter to me.

I love the rules of the game and the complexity. I love the pacing of it and the numerous skills involved by all of the players. I love the offense and I love the defense. I love the dancing, prancing, and outlandish celebrations by the players who score touchdowns; I am upset those celebrations have been tempered by the NFL, because I think they are a part of the immense joy that can only come from scoring an impossibly fantastic touchdown in front of tens of thousands of people. I don’t like the violence and its increasing prevalence, but overall, I really enjoy a good football game.

I was watching highlights of the Giants game the other night, though (yes, I even like watching ESPN football highlights), and a player got sacked. Hard. Normally, this would elicit a wince from me and maybe some utterance like, “Ow, that must’ve hurt.” But this time, I had a different reaction. When sacked and brought to the ground, this player’s body contorted in grotesque ways; joints splayed out in angles not predicted by anatomical geometry. I wondered if I had just witnessed his body and his soul parting ways.  It looked truly horrible and I felt really yucky inside.

Then I realized why I was having such a strong reaction. In that flash of observation, it occurred to me that this man is someone’s son. And that hit me like a ton of bricks. I wondered what his mother felt like watching this occur. I wondered if she was even watching at all, and if not, what would it be like for her to see her son’s body crushed like this on the evening news?

The player rolled over, unfurled his legs, and got up. Miraculously, he was fine. But I wasn’t. I couldn’t stop thinking about this man’s mother. And I realized in that moment that since I became a mom, I view the world differently because I am a mom.

Take the Olympics. Watching the Olympics is a vastly different experience now that I am a mom; I used to be fascinated by someone achieving something so huge and incredible and difficult. Now that I am a mom, I am fascinated by someone’s child achieving something so huge and incredible and difficult. And it seems that everyone I meet for the past 6 years receives this scrutiny and awe from me: doctors, lawyers, check-out clerks, the garbage man, the plumber… Everyone came from a mother and everyone is someone’s child.

I see homeless people on the street and I wonder, who are their mothers? Were their childhoods happy? Did their mother look at them on Day 1 and say, “Oh my God. I can’t believe I made you.” How did they end up homeless? Where did life shift for them so that they are on the off ramp of the freeway asking for change? Couldn’t their mother help them? Maybe not. And that’s sad, too.

Of all of the mixed blessings of parenthood – the joy, the exhaustion, the agony, and the ecstasy – this shift in perception perplexes me the most. Am I grateful to have this awareness? Or is it a hindrance that turns every sad happening into something far sadder and more complicated than it needs to be? For the misogynists who claim women should not hold high-ranking military positions or political office because of their “woman-ness,” is this why!? Have I become a mushy hypersensitive hormonal Mom!?

I may not be able to tease all of that apart, and I don’t know that I need to. Who knew that we would change so much at this stage of life? That we would reach our 20s, 30s and even our 40s and have revelation and humility and tenderness for a football star on a field thousands of miles away simply because we are moms! I wonder if women who never have children (by choice or by circumstance) feel this way about contorted football players. Is this something “only moms” can understand?

Perhaps. But it doesn’t much matter. What matters is that I am connected to every mother and, apparently, every child, more deeply and elaborately than I ever was before. And it’s all because I am someone’s mom.


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