I Love Sports
I just wrapped up watching the Women’s World Cup, and it was an awesome World Cup (despite the United States getting bounced in the Round of 16).
However, the best part of this whole tournament was that it was something that I shared with my daughter. Neither one of my kids has been big into watching sports with me. In fact, I have put on the Olympics and still could not get an interested desire out of them.
I want to be the father that doesn’t push them towards anything to the point of regret. Therefore, I will usually just tell them that I am going to be watching said sport (that way I can watch it on the TV) and they can choose to watch it if they like. If it is a big feat, like watching Track and Field, I might try and pique their interest. However, nothing…
That is until recently when we were at Lake Gaston on vacation.
The TV at the Lakehouse only has local cable on it, and I usually end up following events on my phone as I am able to get service to watch or track them. However, this year, the Women’s World Cup was beginning and the first handful of games would be on FOX. Always a fan of soccer, I tuned into one of the first games, and my daughter quickly took notice.
She asked if I was watching “football” (yes she really did call it football on her own). No, I am not going to tell her it is soccer. Then she noticed it was women who were playing and she immediately perked up. She became very interested in “The Football,” especially seeing women playing at such a high level.
Now it is not that I have never watched women’s soccer; I watched the 2019 World Cup. However, more so during the year (because of lack of availability on TV), I tend to follow women’s soccer on my phone (I follow the NWSL and Women’s Premier League). I realized this was probably the first time that my daughter had witnessed me cheering for a women’s sport. I do watch and loudly cheer for women athletes: on the track, in the Olympics, and during other women’s sporting events. However, I was trying to recall when my daughter had seen me sit down and watch a women’s-only sport.
Beyond the thought process of better representing women’s sports through what I watch, I became overjoyed that my daughter wanted to watch the World Cup. As we watched one of the early matches, she began to take an interest, often cheering for teams based on the color of their uniforms. She was asking questions about who was who. Then she asked when we were playing (we being the United States women). I told her when the first game was and she asked to watch it!!!
Though it was later in the evening I couldn’t say no. She kept asking when the game would start and if she could stay up and watch it. Of course, she could!
When the time finally came, she had worn herself out too much and was asleep by the end of the first half. Unfortunately, with my sleep schedule, I did not make it much later than her. But, she saw the first US goal and I was able to watch them get the second and was comfortable with the game being won.
Though she missed the end of the match, she was hooked. Even when we got back home from vacation and the tournament wore on past the group stages and into the knockouts, she still wanted to watch when I was watching. If she woke up in the morning and I had a game on, she would ask who was playing and their colors and decide on someone to cheer for.
She also employed the tactic of asking who I was cheering for and then cheering for the opposite…yeah she is my child.
She did complain that I was too loud when cheering for the United States as they went to penalty kicks against Sweden and lost. She witnessed disappointment, not understanding my own anguish, but then reached her own as she realized the country she lives in was out of the World Cup.
From there, like many Americans I am sure, her interest waned, but because her dad kept watching she would keep watching, too. My next team after the US is always England, and as they made a run we both watched and cheered as they played.
World Cup Final
Finally, we got to the final match, and I asked Leah if she wanted me to wake her up early to watch it.
I wasn’t quite sure what she would say, but she responded, “Yes.” Now, I was still unsure of waking her up (you know that saying, “Never wake a bear”). However, it is like she knew, because as I was getting the TV ready, I heard her begin to stir. I quickly went upstairs to see if she was awake or if I could get her back to sleep.
However, when I got up there she asked if the game was on. Of course, I responded, “Yes.”
She came downstairs and began watching the game, going through the typical conversation on the teams and who I thought would win (or rather wanted to win). While she fell back asleep for most of the match, she reawakened with about 30 minutes left in the game. She was up cheering with me, willing England to score a goal.
While I do not know how much she actually understands the sport, I got so much joy from her wanting to watch the sport with me. However, even more so it was the idea that she was not just watching a sport, but some deep part of me knew she could see herself on the TV.
My Daughter can do Anything!!!
My daughter is our little farm girl. She loves cows, chickens, horses, and everything farm-related. When she grows up, she says she wants to be a farmer and a teacher. I don’t want that to change because she gets so excited when she proclaims that.
Her joy from the World Cup and seeing herself in the awesome and strong ladies on the TV screen reminds her that anything is possible. There is no limit to who she can be. She can be a farmer, a teacher, or play on the world stage.
My daughter will grow up in a world that shows her she can do anything she sets her mind to. She is not limited by the pictures she sees on TV, because even those images of humanity will hopefully reflect fully who she is and wants to be.
Representation is such a crucial aspect of our life together. We have so broken down the walls of representation, that we have mitigated the nature of self-worth as to who we feel we are. When we can’t envision ourselves where we feel called or we don’t see equal treatment for people who look, think, or act like us, it can hinder our desire to pursue who we are.
Consider who you are
Consider how you have seen yourself represented throughout society. Who are those influential figures that let you know you could be who you are and chase your dreams?
When Kamala Harris became the Vice President-Elect in November of 2020, she said in her acceptance speech:
“But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities. And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before. And we will applaud you every step of the way.”Kamala Harris Speech from Nov. 2020, found at https://www.nytimes.com/article/watch-kamala-harris-speech-video-transcript.html
Unfortunately, we still are not where we should be; people fight daily for better representation for all. However, I see the hope in my daughter watching and engaging with the World Cup. I see the hope in videos of little black girls getting excited seeing Vice President Harris on TV. I see hope in the better representation of minority voices on television and on the big screen.
We still have a long way to go, but the hope is there. Sometimes self-worth for others comes down to creating an inclusive society.
How are you playing a role in doing this work?