Deadbeat Sports Dad (Originally Published May 25, 2010)

I am so relieved the Montreal Canadiens were eliminated from the NHL playoffs. Last summer,  after much soul searching and personal reflection I came to a startling life changing conclusion. I hate hockey. At that point the day before the 2009-2010 season began, I hung them up. I retired as a fan. I felt like a grizzled veteran who after fighting one too many battles for too many seasons had nothing left in the tank. The thought that I could have missed a championship season the year I retire as a fan was downright terrifying. 

At one time I loved the game, and was a huge fan. Over time, things between me and hockey were starting to sour. It started a few years ago; I slowly started to watch less and less games a season. If something better was on TV I would watch that justifying it to myself saying “That’s okay I can catch the highlights later.” Then one missed game turned into five, ten and so forth. You know when it’s time to quit watching a sport when you’re not even happy when your team is winning; “sure they won but the power play was pitiful.” 

I didn’t want to admit it to myself my last season as a fan.  I was in denial. I hung in there, kind of like when you’re dating someone and you know that the relationship is over but you’re both too comfortable and lazy to end it so you keep dating about 6 months longer than you should? Sure the sex was still okay but did she need to keep Facebooking her friends during?

What was it?  Where did the love go? How would we work out custody of the kids? Who gets the cabin in Kennebunkport? 

To be honest with you, I’m not really sure. It wasn’t one particular thing it was a myriad of little things. Here they are in no particular order.

Being a sports bigamist was getting to be exhausting. I was juggling two teams in two conferences and it was starting to wear thin. I felt like one of those dudes on Dateline who disappear after a ‘mysterious boating accident’ then turn up in a suburb of Arizona with a new family and when the camera crew comes and blindsides him as he’s getting out of his SUV, he’s half relieved he got caught and half blindsided he got caught. Pretty much the same look I gave Mrs. Mitch years ago gave me when she told me she wanted to get pregnant. 

Having two teams to cheer is great when they are both winning.  It also means having double the chance for disappointment when they are on losing streaks. I call this my “threesome theory.” Sure on paper it sounds titillating and a fantasy come true. Two at once? Imagine the erotic possibilities…. in reality it has a colossal percentage of failure. Not only do you stand the chance of disappointing one woman you double your odds of disappointing two broads at the same time. Wait, I’m still talking about hockey aren’t I?

One of my teams was an eastern conference team meaning that the games started at 5:30 pm. SpongeBob time. You try telling a three and half year old with no anger management skills he can’t watch SpongeBob because Daddy’s got a ten spot riding on the Wings and they got -1.5 spread to cover and see how well that goes over. About as well as saying to your wife “you know…your cousin… she’s kind of hot…now be open minded about what I’m going to propose…”

You know its time to stop watching a sport when you are inexplicably angry and bitchy…when they are winning. “Sure they won, but did you see that pathetic power play? Simply pitiful!” I was getting moodier than a 13 year old girl with self esteem issues every fourth week “Nobody understands me or my team!” as I run upstairs and slam my door and fall on my bed sobbing. 

The hockey season is too long. 82 games time two teams is 164 games a season. Thats too much of anything. It gets tiresome after a while especially at that midpoint of the season where the playoffs are still 4 months away. I just down right got bored. Too much of a good thing can get boring or what I refer to as my “Boring Porno Theory”. You ever watch a porno and your like “Wow this action is hot! That chick is awesome, look at her give that blow-job all she’s got!” Fifteen minutes later, “Is she still doing that blow-job? I’m bored. I’m going to watch Friends reruns.” 

It was suggested to me this playoff season that I could just hop back on the bandwagon. In no good conscience could I do such a deplorable act. It would turn me into the sports equivalent of the Deadbeat Dad. If I started watching hockey again only because my team made the playoffs after not watching it all season, I would be a “Deadbeat Sports Dad.” 

When the government paycheques are rolling in regularly (The team is winning) and a steady supply of Jim Beam is on hand, I would be there tucking you in, acting like your mom is my hot girlfriend, buying brand name cigarettes, pulling you out of school to teach you about the ‘real world’ and taking you to the greyhound track. All would be right with the world.  

Then when the government cheques stop rolling in, the Jim Beam dries up, I would move out because your mom is ‘getting on my nerves’, I would introduce you to my new ‘friend’ Nikkiii with 3 I’s and a bra size that is significantly larger number than her IQ, for some reason I would start calling you “Champ” all the time, I’d raid your piggy bank for cigarette money, and when you ask to come to stay at my place I would stammer “Sorry Champ, this weekend is not good Nikiii’s friend is coming over and she’s really open minded….umm errr I mean I got to work Champ, maybe at Christmas”. 

After all that, you expect me just to jump back on the bandwagon? I don’t think so “Champ.”

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