Football, Families and Keeping Your Promises

Being a fan of the University of Michigan and Pittsburgh Steelers football teams, this has been a rough year for me. Experiencing it in Columbus, Ohio doesn’t make it any easier obviously.

Among other things, this has not been easy on my family; particularly my wife. As the frustration grows and my mood sours the tension in the house gets kinda high.  Nobody enjoys this.  I would like to think I have gotten better about sports as I have aged, and having kids actually makes it better (they are great at distracting you and reminding you what is really important), but I won’t deny it has been a rough year and I have had my share of ruined days.

In light of this, and in the aftermath of Michigan’s ugly and improbable win last night, I promised Lisa I would take her and the kids to the Columbus Museum of Art (which is free on Sundays) instead of sitting around the house and getting grumpy.

What I hadn’t thought about was that the game was actually on TV (Fox because the Lions are NFC). So instead of huddled over the computer following it online while listening to Steeler radio, or going somewhere to watch it, I could watch from the couch on the full screen TV.

When we came home from church I watched the first quarter as the kids changed their clothes, ate lunch, and played.  And it started out great. Soon the Steelers were up 14-0 and I was smiling and joking with the kids. And I began to wonder whether Lisa really expected me to sacrifice the joy of a Steelers victory just because I said something about going to the museum last night …

As it turned out, the Steelers soon produced an epic collapse in the second quarter giving up 27 points to the Lions while only managing 6 points on their two trips into the red zone. The frustration and tension began to grow and I was ready to leave. Clearly my mental health was not ready for another stressful day of football.

Max sports his Steelers jacket while enjoying the museum

So we headed out to the museum. I had somehow lost track of the fact that the museum was undergoing a massive renovation and so arrived to see what looked like the entire building under construction.

But we figured out where to park and made our way inside.  And as a reward we were able to see the wonderful George Bellows exhibit.  The kids enjoyed looking at some more Lego themed exhibits and participating in the educational/participatory set-ups the museum has in each gallery. They drew pictures and made Lego sculptures. Lisa even ran into a former coworker friend. It was a nice time.

As this was going on I would occasionally check the score of the game and amazingly the Lions were not continuing to destroy the Steelers through the air.  Pressure on the QB? A critical forced turnover? The other team messing up in the red zone? Suddenly Steelers were the team doing what it takes to win.  And they in fact did win just as we were getting ready to leave. I smiled a wry smile.

Ella’s drawing of our family

It turned out to a very good decision to leave the stress and tension of football and spend some time with my family looking at art.

Now you could argue that I missed the good part of the game. That I would have been happy had I stayed home and broken my promise.

But I would like to think that my leaving played some small role in the Steelers win. And I know keeping my promise to my family was more important than any football game.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. My experience includes: a decade of work in state government, president of a free market think tank, new media director for a winning US Senate campaign and ghost writer of both op-eds and books. I have a Masters degree in history and have taught at the college level.

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