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Football Parenting 101: Should You Teach Your Kid Who To Root For?

I was just reading the comments on the post about the Steelers-Ravens rivalry and it got me to thinking. What would you do, Steelers fans, if your son wanted to be a Ravens fan? I'm sure many of you simply wouldn't allow that to happen. Which gets to another point altogether. As a parent, should we teach our kids who they should root for? My Dad was a product of the 50s and 60s and as such grew up a Jim (primarily) and Cleveland (secondarily) Brown fan. He raised me in Jersey, though, where everyone rooted for the Eagles, so there was no geographic connection to Cleveland. As such, he let me choose my favorite team. When Jack Lambert threw Cliff Harris to the ground in Super Bowl X and the Steelers rallied to win, I had that team for life. It tortured him over the years but he let it be. And I respected him for it, knowing that if he'd coerced me into being a Browns or an Eagles fan it would have been cruel and unusual punishment. My own son is 13. When he got interested in football as a little boy, I followed my father's example with one notable exception. Son, I told him, you can root for whatever team you like EXCEPT THE BALTIMORE RAVENS. I'm a grown man with a real job and I'd like to consider myself mature and responsible and all that. But I'll admit I wasn't big enough to tolerate a son who was a Ravens fan. I was bummed when he chose not to follow the Steelers, but Carolina had a cool helmet and I couldn't hate on a seven year old for choosing the team with the fierce looking Panther on it. Besides, the Panthers and Steelers will never be rivals so I won't have to worry about any of the dinner table trash talk or Sunday afternoon Cold Wars my father and I battled through. So I put it to you, Nation: how much freedom are you/would you give your kids to root for their own teams? It's one of the biggest decison you'll ever have to make as a parent. ;)
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