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Posts Tagged ‘sports’

If you know me personally and a reader of my blog, you know that my son plays hockey.  He is nine years old and he loves the game and I love watching him play the game.  I don’t know a lot about hockey, but I have come to love the sport.  In many ways, I think there might be a conspiracy perpetrated by the White Conglomerate Program (also known as WCP, but pronounced affectionately as “wasp”) to hide the sport.  Because hockey is lit.  I enjoy watching it more than football (insert gasp here), and I especially enjoy watching my boy play, and he is good (and there are many independent parents to support my claim).  I’m 45 years old and I watched my first Stanley Cup game last year.  I have been to several minor league hockey games and now have two NHL games under my belt.  It’s a fun game.  So, when I tell the story that I am about to tell, it makes me sad.
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Hockey is a white sport.  In other words, it is a sport dominated by white players, at every level.  My son is black.  Actually, my son is half black and half white, but that doesn’t matter, he is black (I could write a blog about this subject alone).  He plays on a team that has 15 kids and he and one other kid is black.  So far, they are the only two black kids I have seen on the ice this season.  During a game with a very good team (they loss 0-9), the other kids and the coach were using foul language according to my son.  He said they were taunting him and his teammates.  We talked about it after the game, and he seemed fine and moved on.  That evening I received a phone call from my son’s hockey coach.  Here is the short version:  According to my son’s teammates, one of the other players AND the coach called my son the N-word.  I got off the phone with the coach and talked to my son about it.  He did not hear anyone call him that.  He said he heard other bad words, but not that one.  And he said that he would know because “I’ve been called that before”, he said.
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Let’s take a moment to pause.  My nine-year-old son was confident that he didn’t hear that word because he had been called Nigger before.
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Pause.
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There are so many reactions that one can have to this story:  One could explain it away.  Maybe they didn’t hear it right.  It was the heat of the moment, it happens.  Don’t worry about it, I’m sure it won’t happen again.  Don’t be so sensitive, it’s just a word.  They were taunting the other kids too, why does it have to be about your son?  Oh man!  I could write about this all day.
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It sucks that I have had to prepare two children so far (my oldest son has an N-word story as well) about being treated this way because of the color of their skin.  Many of you reading this now do not have this on your “I must teach my kid this lesson” on your parent to do list.  Maybe you understand, maybe you don’t, but I am here to tell you, it can be difficult to be black in this country.  But let me teach you the appropriate response to this situation, and I will make it simple, with one word … empathy.  Don’t get defensive.  Don’t rationalize.  Empathize.  Even if you don’t understand.
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The story continues …
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My son’s coach called me immediately after the game.  He did not see nor hear the incident.  He was informed by his players.  Not by my son.  Not by me, but the other white nine-year-old players.  They were upset by it.  One of my son’s teammates was compelled to tell his dad, who than relayed the story to the coach.  The coach called me, and made it very clear that he was bringing up the other team and its coach to the league.  This behavior is unacceptable.  He could have dropped it.  Once he learned that my son did not hear the word, he could have said let’s not rock the boat.  Maybe it was just a misunderstanding.  Nope.  Unacceptable to the coach.  Unacceptable to the kids.  I could not have been more proud of a group of kids and parents than I was of my son’s hockey team and coach.

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Life is not perfect, it is messy.  It sucks that I have two sons that have had to deal with this issue.  It sucks that I have to prepare my sons for what it will be like to be a black man in today’s society.  It sucks that in 2016, nine-year-olds will be using the language of their adults to treat other groups of people as lesser human beings.  I hope this story sticks with you.  Maybe it will inspire you to talk to your own kids about the N word.  That nine-year-old boy could have been silent.  He chose to speak up.  That’s good upbringing.  They say kids are taught to be racist.  Well, than kids can be taught to speak out against racism too.  The hockey coach could have swept it under the rug, and I would never have known.  The kids on his team could have been silent and no one would have known.  Today was not the day to tell me that all kids matter.  Today was the day to tell me that my son’s life matters.
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Roll credits.
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I should probably just end this blog in a serious way, but I can’t, it’s not in my nature.  I will leave you with one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, Canadian Bacon, starring the late great John Candy as Sherriff Bud Boomer.  Here is a brief conversation between Roy Boy, played by Kevin O’Connor and my man, Bill “Radio Raheem” Nunn playing Kabral.
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Roy Boy: How come you never see any black guys playing hockey?
Kabral: Now do you think it’s easy to just gradually take over every professional sport? Let me tell you something, man. Brothers have started figuring out this ice thing. Hope you enjoyed it!
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Sadly, Bill Nunn recently passed in September of this year.  RIP.  There’s your serious ending.
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So, I have decided that the best way to get to know your children is to go on a road trip.  Seriously, I highly recommend it.  Granted, it will depend on the type of kids you have and how many.  With just my son and me in the car, it is quite easy.  If you add two more kids to the mix, I am sure it becomes more difficult, but with proper planning it could go quite well …  I think.

On the second leg of our trip to Colorado, we talked about sports (His topic).  Our conversation about sports got philosophical quite quickly and lasted for almost an hour.  I wanted to know why he played sports.  You see, my son is in a lot of activities.  He is in karate, he starts football in August, then wrestling, then back to karate, and if there was infinite more time and money, he would also be in swimming.  He is the best swimmer that I know.  He is a blue belt in karate and is getting quite good at his defensive line position in football.  Of course I am biased, but I believe the previous statements are accurate.

But it was the why questions that interested me the most.  I asked him about karate and if he knew why they discussed things like honor, dignity and humility.  His sensei is very old school and he trains in the Okinawan Shorin Ryu school of karate.  I asked him if he knew what that meant.  He did not, and quite frankly, neither did I, which led to a discussion on why not ask why?  This may be normal for 13-year-olds, but I found it curious.  My son does a lot of things without knowing why he is doing them.  He likes karate for the exercise.  He likes football because he has friends on the team and he has dreams of being in the NFL.  He likes swimming because I think he is part fish.  My son can stay in the water all day.  And when I say all day, I mean all day.

The why questions led us to a discussion about his school classes.  His classes are apparently stupid and he does not see their point.  We talked about the purpose of education.  I explained to him that there is still a lot that he does not know and that he is not ready to be kicked out of the house yet.  He agreed.  We talked about goals, and why it is important to have them.  We talked about life and philosophy and why there are certain rituals in his karate class.  We talked about why he never asks the ‘why’ questions.  His answer to this surprised me, it’s because no one else does.  I said, “You are right, most people don’t ask the ‘why’ questions, and if you can learn to do this, you will be a step ahead of everyone else.  It is important to ask why, especially when you don’t know the answer.”

I have no idea how my son will look back on this summer when he is older.  I hope he will look back in a positive way.  I hope I am not coming across preachy.  I hope he is not becoming skilled at tuning me out, which I am sure he does more often than I would care to admit.  But nonetheless, it was a good ride to Colorado and I learned a lot.  It makes me wonder how much we could all learn about one another if we could just periodically be stuck in a car for 16 hours.  Can’t wait until the drive home at the end of the month.  We still have a lot of topic cards left.

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One interesting thing I learned on the second leg of the trip.  My son wants to see his birthplace, Lawrence, Kansas.  As we drove through Nebraska I said look around, it’s a lot like this, except with fewer trees.  Despite my description of his birth state, he still wants to go.  So, we will be taking the long way home through Kansas.  I will just have one thing to say to my son before we embark on our Kansas journey.  Be prepared to be disappointed.  I’m just sayin’ …

Yup.  It looks just like this.

Yup. It looks just like this.

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So, I am working on another post that will be ready this weekend, however, I must write a quick post about my son.

I just got back from dropping him off at football practice.  He can walk on his own, but sometimes I enjoy chatting with him along the way and then talking with his coaches to see how he is progressing.

Last week, Brett Jr. missed the football game because it was a later than normal game and he wanted to see his mom.  I totally supported that decision and his team did just fine, winning 52 to 33.  So, while talking to the coaches today, they asked me if Brett would be at the game this weekend.  You see, his game this Saturday was changed to a later time, and they wanted to know if he would miss the game again.  I said, yeah he will be there.  I said, “I talked with his mom today and he will definitely be at the game.”  And they responded, “Great, because we definitely missed him last week.”  You see, until last week, Brett’s team had only allowed 6 points in 3 games.  Last week they allowed 33.  The coaches said, “We missed Brett in the middle.”

I couldn’t stop grinning.  I mean, I was sorry for the team’s struggle, but was extremely happy that it was due to my son’s absence.  He is a star!

So, I am happy, but trying to contain myself.  I have locked and chained up “crazy sports” dad from the first two weeks of football, and I have promised my self to not to ever let him out again.  Nonetheless, I am very proud of my son, for more reasons than success on the field.  He is becoming more and more independent.  He is getting his homework done, he is studying for and doing well on tests, he is playing with his brother, and he is having fun playing football.  I am very proud of my son.  I’m just sayin …

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