For much of the last month, I’ve been trying to get my one-year-old son to say, “Rise Up,” the ubiquitous, and admittedly a little cloying, slogan of the Atlanta Falcons. He hasn’t really come close. And maybe that’s for the best.
When my father and I FaceTimed with my son roughly 24 hours after Sunday’s Super Bowl kickoff, I didn’t bother prompting him to say anything. I just wanted to see his smiling face. I knew it would cheer me up. My dad, on the other hand, couldn’t help himself. “Can you say, ‘Rise Up? Fall Down?’” he asked. (Before my kid’s face popped up on my phone screen, I wouldn’t have found that joke very funny at all. But I managed a chuckle.)
The game had left me catatonic for much of Monday, and I still can’t really talk about it. My dad said he woke up every 30 minutes Sunday night analyzing how a 25-point could slip away in less than a half. Messages of stunned sadness streamed to my iPhone from shell-shocked Falcons fans I’d grown up with, as did plenty of notes of sympathy from people who just wanted the preternaturally successful Patriots to go down in flames.
Monday night, as we went out to dinner, I asked my dad if I should try to pass on my unflinching love for Atlanta’s hapless sports franchises to my son. “God, no,” was his response. “Please don’t.” I’ve only been a father for barely a year, but if there’s one overwhelming objective to my new role, it’s to protect my son from anything that could hurt him. And being an Atlanta sports fan definitely hurts, more acutely this week than normal. Continue reading Should I share the heartbreak of being an Atlanta sports fan with my son?