Cheering for the enemy, in shorter pants
The first two years of my oldest son’s brief baseball career were spent playing for a Pony League team called the Cubs. Yes, I’m in Chicago, but I’m on the south side, so many of my fellow parents were apoplectic at the thought their White Sox-indoctrinated child was going to be sullied by a Cubs logo on their little uniform. “Go Cubs!” I remember one day saying at a game. “Oh my god! I never believed I would actually say that!”
Many parents will be put into that position in the next few weeks (if they haven’t already in warm-weather areas) as uniforms are handed out and they realize their child is playing for a team they would usually affiliate with Satan. My son in T-ball is playing for the Phillies, which will arouse no antipathy where I live. But if I were, say, in Queens, it probably would. Same for a Giants fan who see his or her child in a Dodgers uniform, a Cubs fan whose progeny is wearing Cardinals, or a Red Sox fan finding the fruit of his loins sporting Yankees gear.
Here is some advice for you parents who have trouble separating the child for the uniform, or who are suppressing the urge literally to separate the child from the uniform:
1. Remember, you are not being forced to cheer for, say, Derek Jeter, Red Sox fans. They’re just kids in, to borrow a Jerry Seinfeld routine, laundry. Also, if the kid playing shortstop for your Yankees bobbles the ball, resist the temptation to yell “Jeter sucks!” Like old Looney Tunes cartoons, you should yell that into a paper bag, close it, run 10 miles away, then open up the bag and let the scream out.
2. Be sporting when people tease you about your kid playing for the enemy. Please, no punches to the face. Keep it to the shoulders.
3. Do not overcompensate by wearing gear expressing your hatred for the real team upon whose identity your child’s team is based. Unless you really mean you dislike your kid’s team.
4. Do not fear your child will become a fan of the team you hate just because he or she is wearing that uniform. A few, well-placed, denied meals, withdrawal of affection and forced outdoor sleeping will correct your child in case of any budding interest.
5. Finally, if you want to set that uniform afire at season’s end to get rid of the stink of opposition, it’ll burn easier and quicker if you wait for your child to take if off first.