Friday, January 19, 2024

Hockey, Jared and me: Bonding over sports with your kid

That's my son Jared at his office in St. Petersburg, Florida. It's an awfully big office.

All of my children have been involved in athletics of one kind or another, but only one is what you might call a "sports fan" like me.

That would be my son Jared. Since he was very young, our main connection has been sports. I coached him in t-ball and youth soccer, and over the years we have attended baseball, basketball, hockey and football games, and have made visits together to three professional sports halls of fame.

I assume this had at least some influence on Jared's choice of profession. He works for the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team as Coordinator, Baseball Information & Communications, which means he spends a lot of time researching, writing and disseminating stats and information about the Rays to media and other stakeholders.

A lot of fathers and sons (and mothers and sons, and mothers and daughters, and fathers and daughters) connect through sports, whether it's competing or spectating or both. For us, most of the memories revolve around hockey.

For example, we're in our 17th year as season ticket holders for the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League. Jared and I have probably attended more Monsters games over that time than anyone else in the family.

We have also travelled to Columbus, Pittsburgh and Buffalo to watch National Hockey League games, and we even co-own a fantasy hockey team together.

There was also a stretch during the winter of 2010 when I would take Jared to a nearby ice rink every Sunday afternoon so he could learn to skate and play hockey from a coach. While he didn't take up the sport competitively after that, I do believe it deepened his appreciation of and love for the game.

All of this is to say that, while he and I talk about a lot more than just hockey and sports in general, that's where our strongest ties have been formed. We have cheered together for various hapless Cleveland teams, mourned playoff losses, and celebrated the Cavaliers' glorious NBA title in 2016.

Next month  one month from today, as a matter of fact  I will join him in Florida as we attend an NHL game in Tampa between the host Lightning and my beloved Ottawa Senators. It was a Christmas gift from Jared and his girlfriend Lyndsey, and I think it was a perfect one.

He's a good guy, that Jared. And an excellent fantasy hockey co-owner.

Most of all, he's my best sports friend.

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