I remember my first big-time football game as if it were yesterday. I was 13, sitting beside my dad and a friend in a huge stadium.
The game, though, didn’t go as I had hoped, and a loss seemed certain—when something amazing happened. With only four seconds left, my team’s kicker booted a 51-yard field goal that tied it up, and we all went wild. It was a college game and there was no overtime back then, but we rode home feeling as if our team had won the Super Bowl.
I also remember the birth of my first child as if it were yesterday. I was 36, standing in the delivery room with the doctor and nurses all around, minutes after midnight. Then something amazing happened. I heard a tiny, helpless, sweet cry, followed by a booming voice from the doctor: “It’s a boy!”
They placed my son under the warmer and I saw him up close for the very first time. He was full of life, looking all around, squirming from head to toe. It was the most precious sight I had ever seen.
My wife and I drove home two days later, feeling as if we’d won, well, the Super Bowl.
I’ve been to quite a few football games in my life while spending far more money than I care to acknowledge, and I can say without hesitation: Fatherhood is infinitely better than football. This should be obvious, of course, but we do live in a day where too many of us men are making a life out of our hobbies, extending our teen years into our 30s.
Here are five reasons why fatherhood is better than football—or any hobby, for that matter.
1. Football won’t ever greet you at the door, squealing, “Daddy’s home!” I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be president—to see your name on signs, to watch your ads on TV, to have people treat you as royalty. But I really already know what it’s like. Those few seconds when I enter the house and my three kids go wild as they hug my leg are better than any balloon drop at a political rally. To them, I might as well be president.
2. Football won’t go on a hike with you. It also won’t play tag or tickle, or go fishing with you, or fly kites, or build sand castles with you. It cares not if you read to it or sing to it or give it a fun bubble bath. A football also won’t randomly whisper sweet things in your ear. When my oldest son was 5, he cuddled up near me with people around and said, “Dad, I want to whisper something in your ear.” He then cupped his small hands and told me in a soft voice, “I love riding bikes with you.”
3. Football won’t voluntarily kiss you on each cheek with a smile. That’s what my 2-year-old brown-eyed daughter does every day. She and I took our first daddy-daughter date last year. We colored with crayons, and then she ate as many fries as she wanted, and then she drank a milkshake. All while sitting on my lap. Then she kissed my cheeks again. And I kissed hers’.
4. You can’t change a football’s diaper. Surprised to see this on the list? Consider, though, that the Christian life and parenting are all about sacrifice, about giving, about selflessness. We are to imitate Christ. When we change a diaper or clean that spilled milk or wake up at 3 a.m. to give a bottle, we are doing the uncomfortable—and we’re growing as a person, as a parent, as a Christian. We’re doing the hard. And that’s good.
5. You can’t throw a football with only a football. To play football or baseball or softball or pretty much any team sport, you need a partner. And there’s no better partner than a son or daughter. Some of my fondest memories include tossing the football to my oldest son as we played tackle football, in our front yard, in the colorful fall leaves. I let him tackle me over and over, and I gently tackled him some, too. For the most part, he won all those games, but that’s OK. I already had won my Super Bowl.
— by Michael Foust
Foust is the father of three small children, a writer and editor, and blogs about parenting at www.michaelfoust.com.