Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hey Kids, You Don't Need to Play Sports!

3/19/16 15:52 Home listening to MC5 and Wire: Pink Flag

Last night my son, Joseph Gerald Gordon proved he has more courage than most men I know.  To take the stage as a ninth grader, singing solo in front of the high school students, the jocks and the geeks and the artists, graduates and the good community of Port Jefferson Station would have paralyzed most of us.  But the choice of the song was a stark contrast to what most young men would have chosen.  Most men want to exhibit their maleness and strike up some interest from the young women.  That was me in my senior year of high school, playing U2’s now classic song, I will follow.  I did fairly well in my combat boots and was called Bono for the rest of the senior year.  Joe chose something completely different, a song by Lady Gaga.  

My son has more talent in his pinkie toe nail than I ever did.  His range is incredible, he’s comfortable on the stage and let me tell you readers…it brought a tear to my eye.  Actually, each time Joe sings I am so proud of him.  I’ve seen this child perform in our church, in choirs at school.  Recently, he sung in the all-county choir and last month in Boston he sang with a talented group of students, representing the East Coast.  He had to audition for both of those choirs. 

The last couple of weeks I have had meetings with clients and some have asked about my family.  When I mention my children, three girls and one boy – typically, the first question is what sports does your son play? Um, none.  There is a little awkward silence.  And some have asked, what sports do “they” play?  As if sports in the only choice a young person has, especially if the child is a boy.  You’re a boy, you play sports. Penis equates sports, who made this rule?  What else is there in their young lives? Is sports the only option?   

For many families their lives revolve around sports, church and school and some TV or time on their phones/computers where they play games.  This narrow mindset wear sports shorts all year long.  I see the men who are middle aged and have beer bellies. They’re obsessed with "their" teams as if that is the only thing in life.  They are able to recite stats from the games, standings and speak of the players as if they are family, unless they're traded.  

The parents for these budding star athletes travel long distances for games, strength and conditioning sessions, practices and tell them to “man up,” if they are injured and if the dare shed a tear or a cry is heard. Man up.  We did not have that shit in our house.  None of my children have had any real interest in sports.  Did I try to coax Joe into baseball?  Of course, I promised him toys he wanted, but watching my distracted son in the outfield - being more interested in the dandelions than the game was enough for me.  Especially for Joe.  He explained he had a fear of getting hit in the eye with the ball.  

Hold a second, building a supportive team either a cast in a play or a band or a robotic team is just as important as in sports.  You learn to adapt, working as a unit to achieve a goal.

I loved sports before I wanted to be Bono.  But there comes a time when we need to let our children go and discover their healthy joys.  I was not going to push any of my children into something they had no interest in. 

When we are in our element, maybe it’s on the court or at the plate or in front of an audience, we feel complete.  How often are we prodded into careers which made us miserable?  I can’t wait to see Joe develop his gifts and watch where it leads him.  He’s interested in college – actually in Emerson in Boston, but there is no pressure.  Ali and I want him to be happy and of course continue to make bold choices like being fearless and singing a Lady Gaga song in front of an audience.  Rather than fear controlling his life, he took the stage; the curtains parted and the spot light lit up my handsome boy.  And the audience cheered…

 Thank you for reading this.

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