Monday, May 29, 2006

What I learned watching the Champions League Final...

I love sports. I'm the type of person who always reads the sports page before reading the world news. I've always enjoyed what it provides for me, whether it be the theatre involved with watching a big match live or on TV or the solitude that running brings to me and my collective sanity.

Once I found out that a living could be had in this industry I dived head-long into it, getting my masters in Sports Administration and doing an internship in Australia. And despite two very extended job searches in between I got my chance to continue my sports education by working in two very different areas. During both of these jobs I got a better idea as to what I wanted from a job moving forward and what makes me happy not only in work but in life.

This trip has continued to help formulate those ideas and has me thinking of where to go next upon our return to the States. But for most of this year I've enjoyed sports again as a fan (you tend to enjoy it less when it's your business). And when you're traveling the world, that involves football (soccer to us Yanks) and more specifically the European Cup competition (aka the Champions League) where the best of Europe duke it out for the title of Best Club Team in Europe. After following the competition throughout the year (including getting up at 2:30 am in China to watch Chelsea v. Barcelona) and enjoying the highs and lows of the season I was very much looking forward to watching the final.

FC Barcelona versus Arsenal FC. Two historic European clubs both hoping to shed their underachieving labels with a big victory in Paris. Spain v. England. As we were both psyched for the match, Becca and I planned on getting up at 6am NZ time to watch the final. Luckily we were in Dunedin staying with our friends Kevin and Milyn (and their adorable, precocious son Isaac) so we would be able to watch the game from the living room (where we were sleeping) without bothering anyone.

Cut to the morning of the match. Or more specifically 4am where both of us are inexplicably wide awake and cursing our insomnia. As we were laying there, we heard Isaac start to cry. Figuring that as she was awake anyway, she might as well try and let Kev and Mi sleep, Becca got up, picked up Isaac and brought him to our bed where he stayed surprisingly quiet and mellow.

Leading up to the match, I'd contemplated doing another running diary for the CL final. Instead I found myself more than happily occupied doing my best to keep Isaac busy and not waking up the house. Over the past few days I'd been working with him to "kick the ball"-- initially as an effort to keep him from throwing the ball around the kitchen but over time he seemed to be enjoying it more and more.

As the CL final started, Isaac sat down and immediately uttered "kick the ball hard". Smart kid for 20 months. As the match continued to build in intensity, instead of finding myself more and more sucked in, I instead found my gaze staying with Isaac and interacting with him and keeping him entertained. Suddenly the interest I had in this particular sporting occasion, one I'd been looking forward to for weeks, dissipated and was instead replaced with a pure joy of interacting with this little bundle of wonder. He's not my kid but I found myself still feeling and interacting like he was mine. In Minnesota most of our friends have kids and we've seen them develop over time and I've done my best to play the cool Uncle. But watching this match in New Zealand gave me the first feeling that I was playing the role of Dad.

You know what? It felt good. I suppose this means I'm a lot more ready for fatherhood than I thought. Or maybe I'm not; I'm constantly concerned about whether I'm going to be a good dad. Whether my skills as a "cool Uncle" will translate into being a good role model for my kids.

I've just finished reading "What Should I Do With My Life?" by Po Bronson. The book consists of stories from various backgrounds and have to do with people who have made an effort to change their lives and do what makes them happy. Professionally I'm not sure what the answer is going to be; sports has made me happy in the past but I'm also going to be open to different opportunities upon our return to the states. However, personally I'm looking very forward to the highs and lows that have to do with being a dad. I realize it's not all roses but over two hours on a sleep deprived Thursday morning I found out it was definitely the thing for me.



Anonymous said...

So is Becca pregnant???

BD said...

I did think about people taking this the wrong way but there is no news to be had. Just an attempt to be thoughtful. Suppose I should know better :-)