Jacob Tucker’s father did more than just teach him how to be a good fan–he also showed him how to be a good man. Here’s his story.
It makes perfect sense that, having lived most of my life in Texas, I’m a fan of the Mavericks, Cowboys, and Rangers. I’m also a fan of the Pistons, Bengals, and Reds. This always elicits curious looks, particularly when I’m wearing my skull and crossbones over a Detroit Bad Boys shirt. Explaining my unorthodox team choices goes back to my father.
As soon as I was aware enough, I knew my father was a fan of the Bengals and the Reds. While he was getting his master’s degree, my parents lived in Cincinnati and could see Riverfront Stadium from their apartment. Rose, Morgan, Bench, Perez, Griffey, and Concepcion were common names discussed in our central Texas household as I grew up hearing about the Big Red Machine. I was more than likely the only child in my elementary school that was disgruntled about Pete Rose not being in the Hall of Fame.
I vicariously reminisced about Ken Anderson’s accuracy and Chris Collinsworth’s hands, and revered Anthony Munoz due to my dad’s stories. I still lament how close we came in Superbowls XVI and XXIII even though I wasn’t born during the first and wasn’t old enough to be cognizant during the other. My dad’s stories were painful enough.
My single favorite team in all the major sports, though, is the Detroit Pistons. My fanaticism for them is pretty obvious in my clothing and other paraphernalia (I still have a teal and burgundy hat with that horse bust on top of a basketball logo, for crying out loud). I’ve unapologetically explained my Pistons fandom to unsuspecting Texans more times than I can remember.
I was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana while my dad taught at little-known McNeese State University. During his time there, McNeese featured a pretty good basketball player named Joe Dumars. My dad knew about him before much of the rest of the basketball world. Dumars was the first basketball player I knew existed. He’s been a part of the Detroit Pistons in one form or another since graduating from McNeese. As a child, basketball quickly became my favorite sport and, by association, the Pistons became my favorite team and have been ever since.
My father gave me genuine reasons to identify with certain sports teams. He provided me a solid sports foundation from which my fandom has grown to unusual proportions. I’ve remained loyal to my favorite teams through some bad times without regret, mostly because my dad has also remained loyal.
My dad and I have put our hopes in players like Grant Hill and Ken Griffey, Jr. only to be disappointed. We suffered through years of thinking that Jeff Blake, Carl Pickens, and the rest of the Bengals organization would finally get it together. We also saw the 2004 Pistons win it all in what is still my favorite moment as a sports fan.
Countless times while watching games together, I witnessed my dad rip off his glasses, lower his head, and rub his eyes vigorously out of frustration. I watched him stand up and inch closer and closer to the TV during the waning seconds of close games. I saw him throw both fists in the air during moments of triumph. I’ve found myself unconsciously doing those same things during games and when I realize what I’m doing, I smile to myself knowing where I got the habit.
So fathers, be good to your sons (or daughters that are into sports!). Don’t be a bandwagon fan (I’m looking at you if you suddenly became a fan of the Miami Heat around July 2010). Provide an example for what it means to be a loyal fan and offer a real reason to root for the teams you support.
My favorite sports teams are just one of the many ways my father has influenced me. This seemingly insignificant effect has had an undeniable impact on my life. It has taught me to have rationale for spending time on the things I spend time on. It has taught me to have loyalty and stand by what I find important. And perhaps most significantly, it has given me the perspective that in all the seriousness that is life, sports are meant to be enjoyed. I don’t know if my dad intended all this, but either way, I’m thankful.