November 10th, 2006

Ulysses S. Grant

Skylar had so much fun attending the Cal-Arizona men's basketball game last year that I decided to ask her whether she wanted to see Saturday's football contest. Since she has never expressed interest in the sport and her mother has nothing good to say about it, I figured the answer would be negative. Surprisingly, though, she was eager to have the experience.

I doubt if it's the first time this has happened in father-daughter relations, but I'm pretty sure that her interest was stoked by reading about the Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and then seeing the shots of the stadium in the movie version.

At any rate, since we're going -- together with her beloved "Corn Sean" tommix -- I suggested we watch the last five minutes of last night's Louisville-Rutgers game. When we'd arrived home from AJ's, the Cardinals were already up 25-7 with a good portion of the second quarter to go. It was shaping up to be a huge rout.

But then something happened. And, as I made her dinner and mine while she played with her legos, the Rutgers defense finally started to show it's mettle and the offense found a way to score. By the time we sat down to watch the conclusion, the score was knotted at 25-all and the Scarlet Knights were driving.

I was taken aback by how quickly Skylar seemed to grasp the concept of needing a first down and even more startled by her obvious excitement at seeing the teeming red masses in the stands. So I started to give her some historical context for the home crowd's frenzy. "Rutgers played in the very first college football game, 137 years ago. That's only four years after Abraham Lincoln died. Amazingly, this is easily the most important game they've ever played."

Skylar made a "connection" to Quidditch, but also noted that there were lots of signs for Ray Rice, the Rutgers squad's Victor Krum. Finally, it was time for the Scarlet Knights' placekicker to attempt what would in all likelihood be a game-winning field goal.

"He has to be incredibly nervous," I told her, "because he knows that this will be the most important play in Rutgers history." Predictably, he missed it. But a Louisville offsides penalty gave him a chance to atone, which he did. Then came the kickoff and a single play from scrimmage before it was all over. All of sudden, the stands emptied onto the film. This was the moment Skylar had really been waiting for.

The motion of the crowd over the playing field made it look like a kaleidoscope. It was awesome and beautiful. And I'm so glad she got to share the moment with me. What a great way to be introduced to football.