Saturday, August 06, 2005

Dear Ian...

Speaking of kids and ballgames (if you followed yesterday's "jump"), our friend Matt has sent in a question on the subject. And since the Fried Rice Thoughts readership was so helpful to him last time (of which I have no record since I was too cheap to pay Haloscan to archive my comments at the time), I thought we might be able to pitch in again. Go on, Matt. We're listening...

Dear Ian,

We went to another Portland Sea Dogs game last night, and behind us sat a couple and their young son (who snuck into the box seats from the general admission). Throughout the entire first 5 innings, the parents kept narrating every damn little action and pointing it out to the kid (who must have been about 4 or 5)-- Look Billy, he's pitching! Look Billy, there's the mascot! Look Billy, he just struck him out! Look Billy, he's going to catch the ball! etc.

Now, I've got nothing against getting kids into baseball, but this kid had zero interest in what was going on on the field and no knowledge of any kind of baseball rules at all. He couldn't follow the game or even understand what was happening despite the constant stream of narration we were forced to endure. The kid, being thus bored, would squirm and kick chairs and do whatever the hell kids do when they're bored. (Thankfully, the parents had a marital spat of some sort, and left early.) But the LAST time I was here at a game, the same thing happened... this time with a kid and his grandfather. Same cluelessness with the kid, seemingly unable to follow the game in any way... couldn't tell who got a hit, who was winning, etc. and kept asking questions.

I guess my question is this-- what do you think is the minimum requirement for a kid to be at a sporting event? Should kids, who have no concept of rules or ability to follow the action be taken to a (semi) professional sporting event? Or am I just being an uptight dick?

Matt, Matt, Matt - no one is an uptight dick here. We don't like to use labels here. Don't be so hard on yourself. I hope we can help you. Let me get things started:

Baseball is often played at a leisurely pace, which allows plenty of opportunities to explain the rules and nuances intrinsic to the game. I ask you, what is a better example of Americana than a father explaining the wonder of our national pastime to his son? Don't take that away from our parents, Matt. And please, don't take it away from the children. Remember, they're our future. And somebody has to shell out $35 for a box seat twenty years from now, right?

But as you might remember, I'm a strong proponent of tying kids down to make them watch the entertainment you paid good money for. Those ballpark seats are much stronger than movie theater seats too, so your restraints should work even better.

I'm also a fan of any sort of tranquilizer or narcotic which might control a - shall we say, enthusiastic - child. But rather than spend money on expensive darts or prescription drugs, use what you have on hand. You know you're getting a beer at a ballgame. Go ahead and let the young man have a sip. He wants to get a taste of adulthood? Let him have one. Better yet, let him have nine or ten. That should relax him.

But I don't want to dominate the discussion. This isn't my forum, it's our forum. Fried Rice Thinkers, let's help our brother Matthew out. What do the rest of you suggest?