It may not be much, but it’s an opening. A slight broadening of perspective. A willingness to try something new. And all of those are things to be celebrated in my house the way the Baltimore Ravens celebrated amidst the falling confetti at the Superdome on Sunday night.
Ryan had a dalliance with football this fall that has been well documented in this space. It began in the late summer with the sudden choosing of a favorite team. It continued through some memorable Sunday afternoons this fall and began to wane along with the Jets’ performance on Thanksgiving night. It served as a capable stand-in for hockey during the lengthy NHL lockout. Perhaps most importantly, it may have been partially driven by a desire to fit in with some of his friends who also like football.
No matter how or why it occurred, we fed and nurtured it, encouraged this new interest to grow. It’s not that we felt Ryan needed another sport to be obsessed with, but any time he shows interest in a new topic we are thrilled. Any and every new experience he adds serves to broaden his worldview as the new becomes part of his normal over time.
So I was particularly pleased when Ryan announced that “of course” he would watch the Super Bowl. He said he would stay up to watch the end of the game despite it being a school night. He backed the Ravens, duh, because they beat the Patriots in the playoffs and the Patriots are the arch-rival of his favorite team, the Jets.
He asked questions about the game. He indulged my attempt to teach him about the history of the Super Bowl, which is one of my own little sports obsessions. Veronica pointed out to Ryan that I can recite the matchup, location and MVP of every Super Bowl — the product of years spent watching NFL Films “Super Bowl Memories” marathons on ESPN and carefully cataloging them on VHS.
When I told him next year’s game would be played just a few miles from us at MetLife Stadium, he told me, “I think I would like to go to the game.”
“Oh, Ryan, I would love to take you to a Super Bowl,” I said, before launching into a lengthy description of the difficulty of acquiring Super Bowl tickets. I’m not sure he bought it. He’s been to the Stanley Cup Final and the NHL All-Star Game, and those are much more important events in his mind.
Ryan didn’t make the end of the game. He bailed out at halftime, which arrived right at his typical bedtime. But he told us he wanted to know the final score the moment he woke up, and when I found him on the couch this morning he was indeed watching the NFL Network, a break from his normal routine of watching the NHL Network while he eats breakfast.
It is “jersey day” at Ryan’s school today and rather than wear one of his numerous hockey jerseys, he chose his Jets jersey, a recent Christmas gift which hasn’t been out of his closet since right after he received it.
In part, I think the choice has something to do with him wanting to fit in. He knows everyone will be discussing the Super Bowl at school today and wants to participate. That alone is reason for us to celebrate, especially when we are struggling in several other areas.
This was a difficult fall, both personally and professionally. The NHL work stoppage played a large part in that. But if the lockout brought one good thing into my life, it was Ryan’s interest in football, which serves as another opportunity to bond over a shared activity, both within our family and among his peers. As we put this football season in the rear view mirror, I find myself wondering hopefully if Ryan will still be interested when the new season kicks off in the fall. It’s the same thing I used to fear at the end of every hockey season before Ryan put those fears to rest rather directly.
I hope to hear the same thing about football one day.