Parenting sure has thrown a wrinkle into my obsession with football.
The one critical element you need to be able to enjoy watching football, whether it’s my Ravens playing or not, is time and that’s not something I have a lot of currently.
Indeed, at this point in my life, free time is what I treasure most. It’s something I value tremendously because rarely do I get much of it.
When I do get some time to myself, the numerous things that need to be done at work or at home dance through my head, making it difficult just to sit back, relax and take a breather.
With that being said, I do go out of my way to ensure I have enough time to watch the Ravens on a weekly basis, but there are some games I just don’t get to see as a result of when they are played.
For me, the release of the schedule over the summer is big because I get to see at what times the games are played.
I’m not so much looking at who the Ravens are playing as I am checking out when they are going to take the field.
If they are 1 p.m. games, I usually get to watch most of them because my kids nap during that time. The same goes with night games, as my kids are down and out before they begin.
I cringed this year when I saw the Ravens had three 4 p.m. games because that’s nearly impossible for me. That’s why this week’s news the Dec. 4 game has been flexed to a 4 p.m. start from 1 p.m. hit me in the gut.
The excuse that the Ravens game is on doesn’t go over well around my house when it comes to getting a reprieve from fatherhood.
Neither my kids nor my wife are much interested in that, and neither are about to give me a pass for three hours so I can vegetate in front of a television in my Flacco jersey.
Sure, I have tried to watch football while playing on the floor with my kids or leading a game of a hide and seek, but it’s just not the same, obviously.
Watching football with a 3 ½- and 2-year-old is not a lot of fun for me.
At this point, football is just one of those things that falls down the priority list when weighed with the responsibilities of being a father to young kids.
However, I do often strategize so I can watch as much of the weekly Ravens games as possible.
When Sundays feature the more common 1 p.m. games, I spend most of the morning executing a game plan that centers on making sure my kids are burning off energy, all with the goal of ensuring a nice afternoon nap.
Last Sunday was one of those occasions.
While Pam was working, I kept the kids busy at play outside all morning and at one point on the way back from a little excursion Carson started to fall asleep. When I was unable to keep him awake by talking loudly to him, I resorted to putting his window down so the fresh air would wake him.
If Carson falls asleep for five or 10 minutes, the problem is he will often not nap again, as he thinks he has already slept for the day. A no-nap afternoon from this little one would foil my plan, so fortunately putting his window down did the trick, particularly when aided by his big brother screaming at him from close range.
On this particular afternoon, Carson went immediately down at 1 for his nap, while Beckett was more of a challenge and refused to stay in his room.
Therefore, desperate to watch my game, I let him hit the couch with me, but he refused to stop talking and enjoy the “down time” I was seeking.
Eventually, after several unique chats with my 3 ½-year-old about colors (he wanted to see if he could name more than me), the order of the four seasons on the calendar and why on Thanksgiving we eat turkey, and not fish sticks, he did fall asleep and I was able to enjoy the game.
At 3:45 p.m., Carson woke up and the game was close and winding down. Despite a few stall tactics, I realized I had to get him from his room.
Thanks to the wonders of pausing live television, I was able to sneak in the entire game, but it took some creativity, patience and multi-tasking.
It took all this effort just to watch a three-hour game, but it was worth it.
There was a time when I would obsess on college and professional football all weekend, whether it was at the games themselves or watching them with friends elsewhere. Those times have bid me farewell, at least for now.
I can’t remember the last time I watched a college football game on a Saturday, as that’s the big family day for us, and I prefer to focus my game plan on the Ravens.
As a result of all the distractions that keep me from watching all the football I would like, what I have become is a morning highlight watcher, often standing in the kitchen before the sun comes up, eating breakfast and watching the action from the day and night before in little snippets.
It’s at these times when I feel like a junkie getting a fix. The highlights and the so-called expert commentaries on the games are not the same, but it’s good enough for me for now.
That is until the kids wake up and want to watch Sprout.