Please welcome new contributor Joey, with thoughts on fandom and parenthood.

Since I arrived as a freshman at Chapel Hill in the fall of 1997, I’ve based most (if not all) of my social calendar around Carolina Sports, with heavy emphasis placed on football and basketball. If there was a Tar Heel game being played, I was either there in person, or planted in front of a television watching it. Hell, I had to get my wife to assure me that we could accommodate our wedding guests by arranging for a meaningless UNC/UVA conference basketball game in February to be on an accessible television. Bear in mind, this was a wedding reception that was held on-campus at UNC at the Carolina Inn, during which our guest mingled with Dean Smith, Bill Guthridge, James Worthy, and other Carolina Hoops dignitaries (Naismith Ceremony at halftime of the game). Long story short, a huge chunk of my identity is wrapped around my fandom.

Most UNC fans will remember November 6, 2010 for one thing: It was the day that UNC Football broke through in Tallahassee. Since FSU has joined the ACC, Carolina has enjoyed everything but good luck in football against the Seminoles. The 2010 installment of their gridiron meeting was supposed to be no different, as Carolina was still trying to find itself after being blasted in South Beach and barely squeaking by a William & Mary squad on Homecoming.  The team was battling with injuries, suspensions, etc…The point is, if you followed UNC football whatsoever, chances were you didn’t have a huge air of confidence heading into a game against a retooled and nationally-ranked Seminole squad.

Now, onto the game itself: UNC fans remember Dwight Jones going nuts and filling the stat-sheet with over 200 receiving yards. They remember Florida State’s kicker, Dustin Hopkins, pushing a potential game-winning kick to the right. They may even remember Butch Davis’s postgame on-field comments while donning an ABC headset, gushing about the resiliency of his roster. I remember most of that stuff too.

I also remember learning about 8 hours prior to that kickoff that I was going to become a father.

You see, this was the day that I was no longer just an Alumnus-Homer-True-Blue-UNC-honk-Superfan. With three little words before sunrise, I became Alumnus-Homer-True-Blue-UNC-honk-Superfan DAD. For me, like with all parents, that would be the first day of wearing multiple hats and owning multiple identities.

The day had been event-filled by design beforehand. Our alumni chapter, which I co-chaired at the time, had spent the morning volunteering at the Food Bank.  I’d followed-up with a lunch at a tucked-away Mexican spot for burritos with my wife and my sister. I was capping the day off with tickets to see The Blind Boys of Alabama live at a small concert hall that evening. Trust me, this was a pretty packed Saturday by any standards. However, it was while sequestered and sitting anxiously in our room as my beloved Tar Heels slugged it out with one of college football’s perennial powers that it really started to register:  I was going to be responsible for the life of another human being.  I found my eyes welling up at one point…but that must have only been because Johnny White broke his collar bone, right?

I think it’s only fitting that the first memories I have of fatherhood are forever intertwined with a Carolina game.  In the ten months and change since then, one of the most fascinating evolutions for me personally has been the personal re-prioritizing of importance from a life that largely focused on when the next Carolina game was (and to a lesser extent, the sport du jour), to a life that chases the eventual footsteps of an eleven pound, diaper-wearing puppet-master.

While I doubt it’ll ever be Kafka-esque, if the first 8 weeks of this metamorphosis from Uber-fan into Normal Fan with Dad tendencies are any indication, this should be a blast, and one I intend to chronicle in this space.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride.  We’ll get to talk some sports, but I promise never to ask you to change a diaper.

About Joey

While I cannot say lifelong (thanks, Dad), I am a long-time Tar Heel fan, '01 UNC grad, and consider myself just as passionate and knowledgable as the next guy. My wife, also a UNC alum, and I recently became first-time parents. I'm going to attempt to chronicle my personal struggle to come to grips with going from mouth-breathing Fanboy to only-somewhat-crazy Fan-Dad. The thoughts I share in this space are my own...though they may be heavily influenced by a lack of sleep.
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6 Responses to Inception/Conception

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  1. Andrew says:

    Good job Joey. Look forward to hearing more.

  2. sanfransoxfan says:

    “Long story short, a huge chunk of my identity is wrapped around my fandom.”
    – As a father of boys, 14 and 11, it is good that you are about to experience a much needed dose of reality and perspective. Once you see that these are kids playing the games, including on your rival’s team, it will never be the same again. Thankfully.

  3. viVape says:

    Great article. Thanks to the author on this one.

  4. steve_duke says:

    “Since I arrived as a freshman at Chapel Hill in the fall of 1997″… have you graduated yet? I know it takes tarheels longer to graduate…
    jk, I look forward to reading your posts!

  5. Arizer Solo says:

    Welcome joey, look forward to hearing more from you.

  6. What an all ’round great post

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