Buckeye Brainwashing started early in my house. Before my children were out of the womb, they each had several outfits sporting the scarlet and grey colors of my alma mater, The Ohio State University. We had a Brutus stuffed toy just like the school mascot that wound up to play soothing lullabies. We had little baby booties sewn with Buckeyes on the toes that rattles when our baby kicked its feet. We even had a little OSU rattle for our baby to flail around wildly to fine tune its motor skills. There was little enough Buckeye merchandising going on to start a small team store. Likewise, my kids also owned a few pieces of international soccer memorabilia from our European family and friends to sport around World Cup time. The passion parents feel for their institute of higher learning or their favorite sports team is commonly transferred to their unborn. We want our children to feel the love, the fun, and the reward that these affiliations have provided in our own lives and share a common interest. But what happens when every other friend and relative want to do the same? All of the sudden a conflict of mass proportion ensues because I’ll be damned if my baby is going to wear a “Go Blue” Michigan jersey. Over my dead body…
During a recent business dinner, I found other moms and dads have run into the same sort of situation. The woman across from me had a six-month-old. He was her third son. This boy was getting B.U. memorabilia from the in-laws who were Terriers fanatics and UConn gear from the Huskies in his life, the maternal grandparents.
What is a baby to do? Pick the cuter animal? Select the colors most complimentary?
This mom told me she couldn’t wait until her kids outgrew team apparel because she could give it away to the Salvation Army and altogether avoid being put in that uncomfortable position of what-team-do-we-wear-today. Her strategy was to only wear the clothes when the gift-giver was around. That seemed to keep rival relations in tact.
A dad across the table told me that he and his wife knew of a story where a Pittsburg couple took their team support to a new and unusual level. The husband actually painted the wife’s preggo bump with the Steelers emblem. They were die-hard fans, and for them, it was a memorable way to celebrate the pregnancy.
I’m all about team spirit but not at the expense of what’s best for the child. For example, I’ve gone to Ohio State football games where you see little boys and girls sporting miniature jerseys and cheerleading uniforms. I think it’s totally cute. But, I admit I get a little nervous when I see infants in a Baby Bjorn strapped in for a long game of crowding, yelling, cursing and cheering. Even the most civilized sporting events are just too long and too exciting for a small baby, in my opinion. Disagree if you want, but I think that baby could care less about the game and would much rather be home napping in the peace and quiet with a babysitter. Insane moms and dad leave your kid at home.
So when does fanaticism go too far? Is it when you make your wife paint her belly? Is it when you strictly buy shower gifts that embroider the NFL team logos? Or, is it when family members compete over whose jersey the baby should wear home from the hospital?
It’s safe to say that if you find yourself arguing with friends or relatives over your infant’s gear, you probably need to be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Chill out. It’s only a game.
- You: Ohio State Football: What Needs to Happen for the Buckeyes to Secure a BCS Bowl Bid (bleacherreport.com)
- Ohio State Football & BCS Championship Berth: Teams Buckeyes Need To Lose (bleacherreport.com)
- Ohio State Football: Teflon Jim Tressel Shows Resiliency in Win over PSU (bleacherreport.com)
- Ohio State Football 2010: Close Game between OSU and Penn State (bleacherreport.com)
- Penn State vs. Ohio State Football: Those “Useless Nuts” Deserve Respect (bleacherreport.com)