Reader Kyle McInnis emailed to point me to a post at his blog The Wishbone, inspired by Varsity Dad, about the fatherly advice he has for his newborn daughter about being a sports fan. His No. 1 rule: Support mom and dad's alma mater until you're in college.
Hmm... I think that sounds reasonable. If you manipulate your kid ("manipulate" used lovingly, of course) into being a fan of your team, they will likely keep the faith at least through college.
Wait: Alma mater? But what if neither parent WENT to the school rooting interest of choice? My wife grew up in Gainesville, which is why she's a Gators fan. I met my wife, which is why I'm a Gators fan.
Shouldn't it be "Support mom and dad's favorite team?" Wow: When you put it like that, perhaps the kid's allegiance will be more tenuous, much to the dismay of the parents, I'm quite certain. (Will Gabe be confused if I say: "Let's root for Florida! But let's ALSO root for Northwestern!" It's a good thing there's a clear difference between the two on the football field and hoops court.)
Anyway, McInnis has four other rules, and he brings up an interesting point: Would a good Varsity Parent raise their kid to be a sports fan differently depending on whether they were a boy or a girl? (If Gabe had turned out to be a girl, I would have still launched this blog with the same mission.)
Here at Varsity Dad, I've always espoused a "gender-neutral" approach: I want to develop and explore lessons, tactics and experiences that can work no matter if you're raising a boy or a girl -- and no matter if you're a Varsity Dad or Varsity Mom, for that matter.
For example, McInnis' rule No. 4 will be contentious: "You may wear a cheerleader outfit at any time."
Hold on: Why box your daughter into a "cheerleader" (girl) vs. "athlete" (boy) construct? Why not let her wear a football jersey -- or, perhaps a little more realistically, a piece of apparel supporting one of the school's women's teams? For that matter, if your son wanted to be a cheerleader, I would hope you wouldn't object.
As you can see, here's what I like best about his post: It's a phenomenal conversation-starter. Not just about tips or advice for raising a sports fan (which is at the core of this blog's mission), but how -- if at all -- that changes when you're raising a son versus a daughter.
I hope this sparks some interesting conversations. As comments are moderated, I'll keep a close eye on them and have them posted as close to real time as possible.