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1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]


The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Sep 28, 2013

JenniferFischerI’m a sports fan. I really am. I grew up playing sports, and I always loved watching sports, especially football. I grew up in Texas, so football was a big part of my life because it was a big part of everyone’s life, particularly in the town I where I lived.

I have two sons who, at least right now, love sports. They always want to play catch and swing the bat – even at 2 and 4. They’re interested in other sports, as well. My 4-year-old figured out how to create a bowling alley on our back patio using random items (watering cans, water bottles, etc.) as the pins and uses filled-up gopher holes to practice golfing.

Their favorite movie is not the latest animated film. Nope. Both love “The Sandlot” and can be heard running around, trying excitedly to tell me about “the colossus of clout.”

My 4-year-old recently told me “B” was for Bambino, as in The Great Bambino. Oh my.

Both of my 2-year-old’s birthdays have taken place at ballparks, and I didn’t grow up watching, playing or caring a lick about baseball. Somehow, the boys started to get wind of baseball, and it has stuck.

Baseball2If my sons continue to have an interest in sports, I will nurture, encourage and support that interest. However, it may be with a watchful eye and some reticence as they grow older. Already, we stopped going to Dodger Stadium in favor of the more affordable and less overwhelming Lancaster Jethawks, which offers a much more family-friendly experience, more appropriate to their age.

At Jethawks games, we can sit quite close to the field. We can really see the game, or we can let the boys run around on the grassy areas behind the bleachers and still see the game. Plus, they get to run across the field at the end of the 7th inning. It’s a fun experience for everyone, and the drive is no longer than going to Dodger Stadium – actually shorter, if you count the time it takes to wait to park.

Events this week, though, have me favoring the Jethawks for a much different reason.

In 2011, Bryan Stow was beaten so badly after a Dodgers game (because he rooted for the Giants) that it was unclear whether he would live. He still faces many physical challenges – and emotional, as well, I’m sure, requiring 24-hour care. And this past Thursday, a Dodgers fan was stabbed to death in San Francisco after exchanging words with Giants fan.

Of course, no team is worth death – or murder. Nor is any sport. Also this week, another NFL player, 29-year-old Paul Oliver, formerly with the San Diego Chargers, committed suicide. Other recent and notable NFL suicides include Junior Seau, who 43 when he took his life last year; Ray Easterling, who also took his life last year at the age of 62; and Dave Duerson, who at 50 killed himself with a gunshot wound to the chest so his brain could still be examined.

Seau, Easterling and Duerson’s autopsies showed that the three suffered from CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative brain disease which typically results from repeated trauma to the head. NFL players and hockey players are the most likely to suffer from this disease, given the violent nature of their sports. It is possible that Oliver also suffered from CTE.

Benjamin throws out the first pitch at a Jethawks game for his second birthday.

Benjamin throws out the first pitch at a Jethawks game for his second birthday.

Recently I read “The Best American Sports Writing of 2012” by Michael Wilbon, which really opened my eyes to CTE, as it included several articles about players who suffered from it. The recent news of Oliver’s suicide hit me differently, now that I know so much more about CTE. So does Monday Night Football.

Baseball is hardly the same for me as I read another story of extreme violence and loss that might have been avoided if someone had just worn sports attire with a different team’s colors and insignia.

Yes, I am glad my boys enjoy sports and like to watch baseball. Yes, I want them to play, and yes, I would like to think I will encourage and nurture their interests, no matter what they are.

Still, if I’m being honest with myself, I have to admit, knowing what I know, I can’t say for sure how I will respond if they are highly enthusiastic about football or hockey, or whether I will feel comfortable with them wearing the “wrong jersey” – the visiting team’s jersey – at a home game.

 

Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

 

 

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