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Healthy Parenting Advice from Dad: Find Something You Love

It is officially February in Nebraska. What does that mean? Yes, six more weeks of winter, which, sucks and makes me not want to live here any more, but there is another event that happens in February. This is one that I look forward to every year. Valentine’

s Day? Well of course I enjoy spending quality time with the love of my life and professing my love to her through gifts and words of affirmation, but that isn’t it. My birthday? Nope that isn’t until June. The event I am referring to is Major League Baseball Spring Training!

You see, spring training leads into my favorite hobby, fantasy baseball. I have been playing fantasy baseball since 1984 when I was 15 years old with my high school classmates. We used the first Macintosh computers to input stats and collected the baseball cards of all the players on the team. I played in this league for 3 years with the same bunch of guys and we all became close to everyone, although some had to take more grief than others.

In college, my best friend from home, who also played in the high school league, helped to organize a fantasy baseball league with our dorm neighbors. Every week we went to the Quality Dairy convenience store to buy the USA Today newspapers, and manually entered the stats for our players. It was no small task, but we loved it. We gained some lifelong friends from this league and lots of good memories that we continue to recall when we get together each year.

After college, I was fortunate enough to get hooked up with someone I didn’t know that well but he invited me to play in his league. Now we are great friends and I look forward to seeing him every year. This year will be the 28th year I have been in this league and my excitement for each season has never waivered.

My wife doesn’t get why playing fantasy sports is such a thrill for me but supports my hobby. When the kids were young, I admit I spent more time worrying about my fantasy team than I did about leaving her with four young kid at home for the annual league out-of-town draft. . That unfortunate choice did lead to some marital counseling, and some changing of my preparation to leave for the weekend in future years.

As I reflect on my years playing fantasy baseball, there are a couple reasons it has been so important to me. First, in all leagues that I have played, I have become great friends or strengthened friendships with my league mates. Most of the friends I have today are ones I played with in fantasy baseball leagues with. It is a quick easy way to find commonality that leads to male bonding. (My wife says is it sports bonding, but it is bonding nonetheless. )

Fantasy baseball started as a way to get to know guys through common dialog, but quickly morphed into much more than just stats. We razzed each other if a player performed poorly. We were there for each other when a league friend or child got sick. We kept in touch over the phone as we talked trades, and sprinkled in talk of family and relationships. Now we text but the sentiment is the same. Lots of razzing and of course support for each other when challenges or hard times set in. For me it has never been about winning and the monetary prize it has been about the relationships.

Second, I love to play fantasy baseball is because this is something I do as a distraction from my crazy life of four kids, three dogs and a “determined” wife. I love my life, but fantasy baseball is all about me. I truly believe everyone should have a hobby or something that brings great joy. I love sports but rarely do I sit down and watch an entire NFL football game on Sunday. Once in a while I listen to my favorite college team, Michigan State University, play basketball or football, but schedules make it hard to sit down to watch many games, and I am ok with that.

With mobility at an all time high, it is easier to catch up on my fantasy team at appropriate times on my computer or my mobile app. I try to limit my time looking at fantasy baseball when I am with the family because that is my family time. If I do “need” to look at my team, I always let the family know what I am doing and get their ok before I get lost. Well, that is what I should do in a perfect world, but sometimes the need to escape into me time gets the best of me and the family is always ready to bring me back to reality.

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