What is a dad to do?

Responsibility of a Sports-Dad

We are living in uncertain times my friends. No, I'm not talking about Coronavirus – I'm talking about being a sports-dad during these trying times for Houston sports. With one young son and another soon to arrive, I am now faced with decisions on how to be a good steward of their sports fandom.

My son will turn two next month, and he already loves sports. Outside of Mama and Dadda his first word was "ball". He wants to play with his tee ball set all the time, and during the season he would sit and watch football (even the XFL) yelling "catch" and "tackle" at the TV. Even when playing with his cousins he yells tackle and then goes in for a full wrap-up and pull down tackle (very good form). What he hasn't figured out yet though is what being a fan means, but I know that is coming soon.

Over the past couple of months with the Astros cheating scandal I have at times wondered if it makes me a bad parent to encourage him to root for them. I have come the conclusion that it does not. By the time he is old enough to understand what happened the scandal will be many years in the past, and frankly the team composition will likely be very different. I would not want to miss out on opportunities to take him to games, or just sit on the couch on summer nights watching baseball because people got all bent out of shape about sign stealing. While I certainly won't tell him he has to be an Astros fan, I won't discourage it either. Speaking of discouraging things - this brings me to my main sports-dad area of concern.

What is a dad to do about the Texans? For a while I have thought about whether I encourage my son to be a Texans fan – I was on the fence about it until this week. Instead of having him grow up and letting his fandom fall where it may, I have now unequivocally have decided to actively discourage him from being a Texans fan. As his father I feel it is my duty while he is still young and malleable to steer him away from a path that will undoubtedly bring a lifetime of disappointment.

I myself have become much less invested in the team over the past couple of years despite still loving football. Texans games are no longer appointment viewing for me and their blunders have become comedic rather than painful (I couldn't help but laugh when they blew the 24 point lead to Kansas City). Despite those personal feelings, I always hoped my son would love watching football like I do, and figured he would probably root for the Texans if for no other reason than they were the local team. The actions of this week though have made it clear the organization does not deserve my son as a fan, and they sure as hell do not deserve my money as the parent of a fan. As a father I hope to spend many future Sundays watching football with both of my boys , and we will be doing so as fans of a team not named the Texans.


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Everyone else is doing it! Composite image by Jack Brame.

Can a professional athlete come up with a worse excuse for getting caught using performance-enhancing drugs than blaming it on a doctor?

Fans would have more respect for a player if he said the dog ate his urine test results.

Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V (as in I'm taking the Fifth) and cornerback Bradley Roby have been suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Both will sit out for the remaining five games of the 2020 season, plus the first game of the 2021 season.

There were many questions about Fuller heading into Year 5 of his NFL career. Up until 2020, his tenure in the NFL has been plagued with injuries, and some Texans fans clamored for him to be swapped before the 2020 trade deadline. Fuller was having his best season, and the Texans decided to keep him. In fact, Deshaun Watson said the team would've revolted if Fuller had been moved. In 11 games, Fuller has 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns.

I'm going to cut Bradley Roby some slack because he took ownership for using a banned substance. He made it clear that it was his responsibility to know what is on the NFL's list of banned PEDs. He will probably have that list taped on his fridge the rest of his NFL career.

Fuller took a different approach, one that unfortunately resembles many other famous athletes' excuses for getting caught with PEDs; Blame a medical professional. Or somebody, anybody else.

Whether Fuller and Roby were receiving treatment from the same medical professional is unknown. More important, it's irrelevant. In 2020, how could athletes possibly blame a medical professional when a list of banned substances is hanging on the wall in every team's training room?

The answer is they shouldn't. Let's take a look at athletes with the worst excuses for juicing. Specifically for getting caught juicing.

Rafael Palmeiro (MLB) - Other than a physician or trainer, the only person more improbable to blame for a positive steroid test is your own teammate. When Palmeiro tested positive in 2005, he blamed a supposed B-12 shot (it wasn't B-12) administered by Baltimore Orioles Miguel Tejada.

Brian Cushing (NFL) - Cushing played his entire NFL career with the Houston Texans. Cushing's first positive test came in 2009. He had abnormally high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, a human growth hormone that typically shows up in pregnant women. He later changed his excuse to "overtraining." He has since claimed the positive test was a result of a cancerous tumor. He tested positive for PEDs again in 2017.

Maria Sharapova (Tennis) - Sharapova claimed she never read an email which listed the banned substance, meldonium, she was caught taking.

Barry Bonds (MLB) - When Bonds tested positive for PEDs in 2000 and 2001, he put all of the blame on San Francisco Giants trainer Greg Anderson. Bonds said Anderson told him that he was using flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is not typically injected, and certainly doesn't lead to your hat size growing.

Lance Armstrong (Cycling) - Armstrong, after years of denial, admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs on an Opera Winfrey prime time special. His excuse? Every other cyclist was doing it. Oprah did not ask him if he would jump off the Brooklyn Bridge if the others did. How could anybody win seven Tour de France titles after surviving testicular cancer? They might as well have renamed the race Tour De Lance. His sad saga ended with him being stripped of his seven titles and banned for life.

Melky Cabrera (MLB) - Cabrera tested positive while playing for the San Francisco Giants in 2012. After his positive test, he paid a patsy $10,000 to create a fake website that sold fake products to try and fake his innocence. The FBI busted him and he served a real suspension.

LaShawn Merritt (Track & Field) - The famed American sprinter blamed his third positive steroid test on a testicular enlargement supplement called Extenze.

Petr Korda (Tennis) - Korda stated that his love for veal was the reason he tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. He went further saying he liked veal even more when the calf was injected with steroids. A scientist testified Korda would have to eat 40 calves every day for 20 years to equal the amount of nandrolone discovered in his system. Sounds like the Ivan Drago diet (from the first fight, when he killed Apollo Creed).

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