For those of us lucky enough to have great relationships with our parents, we have certain memories with them that will stick with us for a lifetime. When Father’s Day rolls around every year as it did yesterday, it’s fun to reminisce about some of those memories and appreciate the people you made them with.
Vacations, camping trips, graduation days; the list goes on and on. Some of the best memories however, are related to sports in some fashion. Whether it be a special team from your childhood when your parent was a coach, sitting on your dad’s lap while watching a big game on TV, or getting to watch a professional sporting event in person, those memories can be some of the strongest you will ever make.
My family has been very lucky in the fact that we’ve had hundreds of moments like these. Many of our sports memories occurred when we were participants, but many more happened where we were spectators. The Denver Broncos, of course, have been the center piece in more than their share of my family’s memories.
I can still remember watching the 1991 AFC Championship Game with my dad and thinking that David Treadwell was going to have to walk home from Buffalo after shanking three field goals in a three point loss. I can remember sitting at old Mile High Stadium with my dad and my brother when John Elway took a victory lap after beating the New York Jets in the 1998 AFC title game. Naturally, the best moment of all time was celebrating together after John Mobley batted away that fourth down pass in Super Bowl XXXII. The list is endless. But the things that remained the same were always my family, the Broncos, and more often than not, Elway.
I think it’s my duty as a parent to ensure I make memories like these with my daughter so she can carry them with her as she grows older. I also think it’s my responsibility to make sure there’s no way in the world she ends up a fan of a different NFL team! She has been wearing Broncos gear since she was born, and she loves to color her pictures in orange and blue because she knows that’s the best color combination that there has ever been. I think she is well on her way to becoming a Broncos’ lifer like the rest of us.
When the 2011 season rolled around she was five years old, so I figured it was about time that she get to go see her first football game in person at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. It just so happened that I took her to the Thursday night game against the New York Jets, which turned out to be one heck of a ball game. It was a little different than the usual for me. Less beer and less screaming like an idiot, but on the flip side I actually paid closer attention to some of the cool stuff I had stopped noticing long ago.
The first thing that got her excited was all the horses. She loved the horses on and around the stadium. She loved the big blow up horse that serves as the tunnel for the players, and she loved the real horse, Thunder. She was thrilled when he ran onto the field but she wanted to see him more often. I told her he runs onto the field when we score, so believe me, we all wish we could see him more often (This should be less of an issue in 2012!).
According to her, the team store was just about the coolest thing in the world. I of course promised her she would get a prize for making the trek to the stadium with me, so she took her sweet time making a choice because it wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly. After much deliberation, she settled on a Broncos teddy bear. So as you can imagine, I ended up holding that Broncos teddy bear pretty much the entire game. After the team store the highlights for her were the fireworks that shot off from the scoreboard and the hot chocolate at halftime, but not necessarily in that order.
The most boring part of her night was the game itself after about 10 minutes or so. Sure she thought it was cool to see the quarterbacks throw passes the first few times, and she listened to me ramble on about some of the football basics for as long as her five year old attention span would allow. But as with most young kids, she got a little antsy when there was less stimulation. Luckily for me, I have an IPhone, which for my money is one of the greatest things ever invented. There is also nothing around that beats its usefulness when you need to keep your little one occupied for a few minutes. She got busy with Angry Birds while I got busy cheering on Tim Tebow during his heart stopping game winning touchdown drive. For both of us, it was a successful night all the way around.
She may not remember the final score of the game when she gets older, nor who the Broncos were even playing, but I can guarantee you she will always remember the first time she saw Bucky on the Mile High Stadium scoreboard and the roar of the crowd when the home team got introduced. One thing is for sure, we made several memories that I will remember forever. Like seeing her face when the fireworks went off for the first time, and how we laughed together while sharing hot chocolate at halftime because she was bundled up like the little brother on “A Christmas Story”. Most of all though, I will remember her sitting on my lap clapping and yelling, and then telling me that she was having an awesome time. Because at the end of the day, that is what sports are all about.