Fathers: Being there matters

Flashback to 2002. Picture a 12-year-old boy rumbling down the stairs at the crack of dawn for breakfast before heading off to learn who-knows-what in school.

He pours himself a bowl of Fruit Loops or Cinnamon Toast Crunch and plops down next to his father at the kitchen table, who’s already halfway through his morning cup of tea.

What else was a young boy to do, pre-iPhone times, other than pick up the daily sports page sitting next to him and begin sifting through the baseball boxscores to see how many games out his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates were in the National League Central Division.

Again, this was the mid-2000s, so that number could’ve been too high for him to count. But I digress.

If you haven’t caught on, that 12-year-old boy was me, and looking through the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports section became part of my daily routine until I left for college.

It’s also why I’m in the profession I am today and able to write this column on what I believe is a day honoring the most important thing in a child’s life. (No, not read a newspaper, although I’m not discouraging it.) Rather having a father who’s there.

Obviously there are circumstances that are beyond control and sometimes that’s not possible, but if it is, make a point to be there for your kids. This is coming from someone who grew up in a two-parent home and can finally understand how grateful I should be for it.

I’m not saying fathers should have their kid on a string like a puppet, or even be at every sporting event or choir concert or science fair.

But make an effort.

Believe me, kids notice.

And it matters.

I know how fortunate I was, and still am, and will never take that for granted. The adult world is difficult sometimes — I’m learning that first hand — but a child should always have a father figure in their life.

It’s why we take a whole day to celebrate it.

I got a chance to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad earlier in the week, in possibly the most fitting way I could think of — a good ole fashion Pirates game.

My mother deserves a thank you as well, for the number of hours that turn into days of listening to us bicker about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 3-4 defensive scheme. Or whether or not Tiger Woods will break Jack Nicklaus’ career majors record.

She’s listened to us talk so much sports I sometimes think she could host her own sports talk show. But that’s what happens when you’re the only female in the house. Sorry, mom.

Back to 12-year-old me. Since my Dad always read the sports section first, that was the page sitting on the kitchen table waiting for me each morning.

Now I find myself in that very profession and I’m not quite sure how it happened. One thing I do know is that it wouldn’t have happened without the help of many and the unintentional help of one.

So for that, thanks a lot, Dad.

No really, thanks!

Happy Father’s Day to you and all the other fathers out there.

Kevin Connelly is a sportswriter for The Vindicator. Write him at kconnelly@vindy.com and follow him on Twitter, @Connelly_Vindy.

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