UNC v. Louisville: A Great First Half

Each week, contributor and new parent Joey will post his thoughts as he undergoes the transformation from fanboy to father.

I have to say, this past week’s game in Kenan that pitted Carolina against Louisville was one of the best, most enjoyable halves of football I’ve experienced in a while.

(I’ll wait as even the fringe football fan scratches his/her head in confusion)

I mean what I just said. Saturday, October the 8th was not only my favorite football game experience this year, it may be my favorite ever.

Right now, undoubtedly you’re recalling that there were no points scored in the first half of that game. Both offenses were atrocious. It was about as eventful as a Friday night in your local monastery. I’m pretty sure that of the hundreds of people who actually attended the game, I saw a minimum of 2 who were asleep in their seats. Regardless, the game was an absolute blast.

Last week, I previewed what would be a landmark day for me. Saturday was the first day that I got to take my little girl (all of 11 weeks old) to her first tailgate and football game.  You’d think that Friday night was the night before Christmas: I didn’t really sleep, and it wasn’t because the baby kept me awake. I was restless because I couldn’t wait to hold my daughter and watch a football game live and in-person.

A year ago, if you’d have told me I’d type that last sentence with a straight face and a clear head, I’d have politely asked how long you had been eating shrooms. A year ago, Saturday mornings meant a lot more focus on cold bottles for me than warm bottles for a mini-me.  Yet, I digress…

I learned something surprising on Saturday:  it’s easy to take a baby to a tailgate. My wife may disagree, but honestly, we had at least a half-dozen babysitters on-site. The kid was passed around more than a doobie at a Widespread Panic show. I was able to cook breakfast for everyone, and my baby’s mama actually got a chance to sit down and be an individual for a second. (Via all of this positive recollection, I’m lobbying like hell to continue tailgates as usual.)

I’ll admit something else to you:  when we found out we were expecting, part of me wanted a boy. I think that’s standard for all men. It’s not that I would or do love my daughter any less than if I’d have had a son. I think it’s because of events just like this, that guys hope for a son at one point or another. On the surface, most men aren’t sure how to relate sports to women. I think that dynamic changes a little bit when you start them early, or as in my case, within the first quarter-month of their life. My point is simple: I didn’t enjoy the game experience any less because I was toting a little girl around. In fact, if she’s anything like her mom, she’ll know how to diagnose a screen pass pretty soon, and I’ll be able to have the same cogent football analysis discussions with my little girl that I do with her mom. Even though my little one was in a polka-dot UNC dress as opposed to a miniature jersey, there was still an indescribable sense of pride that enshrouded me as I stood there and watched the kickoff.  I was sharing something that I loved dearly with a little diaper-filler that I loved dearly, and it in utopian fashion, it worked.

I absolutely cannot wait to take her to her next game. I can’t wait until she’s old enough to cheer (and boo, if the 3rd and 14 end-around call merits such). I’m pumped for the first time she cries for cotton candy at the concession stand. And, if eventually she gets to the age where she loses interest in the game? I can’t wait to let her watch the dance team/band/cheerleaders.

I’ve found a new football buddy.  This past Saturday, she made watching some putrid football a real thing of beauty.

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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