Spring Sports Superheroes Are Fathers Too
Right after the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup, we posted stories about a few of the fatherhood moments that the athletes had. We thought it’d be worth a look at some of the other sports that have been coming and going lately to let you know that even superhero-level athletes can be human fathers – yes, even Lebron James.
It’s only a coincidence that Father’s Day falls (every year!) at a time of year when almost every major sport in the world is in full-swing. Even for sports-uninclined dads, it’s hard not to get swept up in the frenzy while hockey’s inching toward the Stanley Cup, basketball’s heading for a final showdown, and soccer, baseball, tennis and golf are still hitting their stride. This year, we saw all sorts of fatherhood in sports, from basketball to spelling bee. It seemed like no matter what shape balls you like to watch people hold, there was a father in the story.
Here were a couple we saw:
In the NBA
NBA champs Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh was eager to return home to his son, Jackson, who was born in late April, during the first round of the playoffs. Teammates didn’t know when Bosh would return to the court, but reportedly, his wife, who gave birth to Bosh’s second child (their first together) with no complications, told him to “go do your job.”
Bosh’s fatherhood isn’t without some drama. Ahem.
Bosh isn’t the only Miami player with his kids on his mind; LeBron James’ 7 year old son was featured in a youth league game last month, where he emerged a serious contender among 8 and 9 year olds. I’m sure James was more excited to get home and play some one-on-one with his biggest fan and get away from a-hole critics like me for awhile.
German tennis star Tommy Haas (who said he learned how to play tennis from his father) beat Roger Federer in the Gerry Weber Open last week, and is looking for a couple more good years on the court so that his daughter can remember him in his prime. Haas’ daughter, Valentina, now a year-and-a-half old, doesn’t always travel with dad to tournaments, but allegedly learned how to say “come on” while she watches him on television from afar.
In the NFL
Tom Brady Sr., father of the New England Patriots quarterback of the same name, made headlines recently when he said that he wasn’t sure he’d let his son play football when he was a child. Brady Sr. waited until the future Pats QB was 14 years old to let him play out of fears he’d get a concussion.
Brady Jr.’s response? And eye-roll and proclamation that “there’s no job I’d rather have,” saying also that he’s “fortunate to be in a job that’s so fun,” and that the lessons he’s learned – things like discipline, mental toughness and being part of a team – outweigh anything he’s experienced in injury so far.
Also in the world of handegg: controversy earlier this month surrounded Justin Combs, a New York high school grad that just accepted a $54,000 scholarship to play football for UCLA starting in the fall. Oh, and Combs is also notably the son of Sean “Diddy” Combs – who happens to be one of the wealthiest people in the United States. Some argue that Diddy can afford the tuition, so the scholarship should have been awarded to a more-needy candidate (possibly one that wasn’t given a $360,000 Maybach for his 16th birthday?). Others argue that Justin, who graduated with a 3.75 GPA, fought hard for the money. And others say that Diddy can make things right by donating $54k of his own money to UCLA. Kids from money beware: this anti-“controversy” reaffirms that this country still can’t decide whether they’d prefer a millionaire’s kid to succeed on his own merits or ride to the finish line on his parent’s cash.
Bubba Watson, who secured a second-place tie in the Travelers Championship (and secured a not-a-bad-day-at-the-office $528,000), has a lot to be thankful for despite not making the cut earlier in the 2012 Memorial Tournament and US Open: he won the green jacket at the Masters back in April, and he and his wife are finalizing the adoption of their baby son, which was the culmination of four years of planning. Between winning the Masters and now, Watson’s had a difficult time choosing between home life and golf, obvi – but a tweet on May 10th declaring that he’s “not missing golf at all” might have foreshadowed the Memorial Tourney and US Open lack of focus. Sometimes, however, it’s just more important focusing on your dad-balls than your golf-balls.
In the NHL
Adam Lidström, the 16 year old son of Detroit Red Wings Defenseman and Captain Nicklas Lidström, is enjoying having his father home more. Nicklas, the four-time Stanley Cup, seven-time Norris Trophy-winning 20 year veteran, announced his retirement on May 31st, after setting a record for playing 1,564 games with a single team.
Adam doesn’t remember a time when his father wasn’t playing hockey – but the tables may be turning. Back in Sweden, Kevin Lidström, the eldest of the four sons, is playing in Västerås, a team his father also played on. Adam says he’s thinking about joining the team as well, but doesn’t feel any pressure to perform up to his father’s level. “I just love the game so much,” Adam recently told reporters, “I don’t worry about what others think how I should play because of who my father is. I just want to play the best that I can.”
In the MLB
Baseball’s always full of father-son lore, but recently, there was a more important cause: Major League Baseball and the Prostate Cancer Foundation teamed up again, as they do every year, to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer research. The theme, as you may have seen in commercials, was “Keep Dad in the Game.”
People helped raise over $3 million in donations during 75 selected MLB games between June 7 and Father’s Day. Last year, sluggers knocked 90 home runs out of the park during the challenge window. This year, the Home Run Challenge included big league stars such as Derek Jeter, Todd Helton, Adrian Gonzalez, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, David Ortiz, Matt Kemp and Albert Pujols – and resulted in 150 home runs.
Oh, and Father’s Day attendance at MLB games was the largest single day in four years, at an awesome 581,680 fans nationwide.
Too Good Not to Include
One spring sport that’s got more attention in recent years is the Scripps National Spelling Bee. This year’s winner, Snigdha Nandipati , attributed her win to time with dad. Nandipati, from San Diego, California, says that her father would quiz her every day on the way to kindergarten. Krishnarao, Snigdha’s father, would ask her to spell words that he’d pluck from billboards and signs during the commute. Krishnarao, seeing his daughter’s talent, entered her into her first spelling bee in third grade. Soon enough, she was winning them, culminating May 31st with the Scripps Bee win. By the way, Snigdha won the Scripps Bee on the word “guetapens.”
Krishnarao, who’s a software consultant, also prepared Snigdha this year by creating a program that extracted 30,000 tough words from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (in the hacker industry, son, we call that “spidering“) and printed flashcards for them.
So, whether you’re into baseball, football, hockey, golf, tennis – or just competitive spelling – make sure you’re doing it with your kid! Clearly, athletes like these have strong bonds with their dads and kids…and so should you, obvi. If these stories didn’t get you excited to take your kid to the park and toss something around, there’s nothing else we can do for you. Which, was kind of the way we felt about you to begin with anyway.