Song of the Day

For all those who have sent their kids off to college for the first time in the midst of this pandemic. Replace “friend” with “son” or “daughter.”

Into the traffic changing
A good friend I have had
Today, today he’s leaving
Makes me sad

My friend is starting over
There is a trembling
Today, today he’s trembling
Through the trees

If you see him there on your street
Will you smile or shake his hand
Today, today
The brotherhood of man

Katie Ledecky: Springsteen Fan

Katie-Ledecky

I was thrilled to learn that Katie Ledecky is a Bruce Springsteen fan!  See her interview with Bob Costas here.  I am hoping that the Boss will invite her to one of his upcoming stadium tours!

Ledecky told Costas that her father first introduced her to Springsteen when she was six-years-old.  They would play the Boss on their drives to and from swimming practices.  As some of you know, I have a daughter, Allyson, who is a year younger than Ledecky.  She is a volleyball player and we have spent a lot of time over the years on long car drives to volleyball practices and tournaments cranking the music of Bruce Springsteen and singing together at the top of our lungs. When our throat got sore I would stop the CD and explain to her the meaning of the songs we just heard.  I have no idea if anything I said during these mini-lectures actually sunk in, but I definitely think these experiences taught her patience! 🙂

My daughter is about to leave home. Her first college volleyball preseason starts in a few days, and classes begin at the end of the month.  So I must admit that I got a bit emotional when I heard about the way Ledecky bonded with her father through the music of Springsteen.  I loved the look on her father’s face when the camera panned to the Ledecky family standing off stage. I could relate.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to more father-daughter bonding on some of the long car rides from Harrisburg, PA to Grand Rapids, MI.

Fea ladies

The Fea ladies enjoying a Springsteen concert at Hershey, PA in 2014

And now for a full confession.  I went to bed last night just before the Costas interview with Ledecky.  As I climbed under the covers I got some texts from Allyson, who was at a friend’s house. Here was part of our exchange:

Ally: Dad, OMG, ARE YOU HEARING THIS?

Ally: DAD ARE YOU HEARING THIS

Me: No, I’m getting in bed

Ally: SHE LOVES SPRINGSTEEN

Me: Who?

Ally: KATIE LEDECKY

Ally: SHE LOVES SPRINGSTEEN

Me: Awesome

Ally: HER DAD PLAYS IT IN THE CAR FOR HER ON THE WAY TO EVERY PRACTICE AND RACE!

Ally: SINCE SHE WAS SIX YEARS OLD!

Me: Wow!

Ally: THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT “GLORY DAYS”

Ally: HER FAMILY LOVES THE BOSS!

Me: It’s a sign of YOUR future Olympic glory!

Ally:  And she’s also 6’2

Me: Yup–there you go.

Ally: Hahahahahahahahahaha!

OK–with the emotional father-daughter stuff out of the way I will now write the rest of this post as a serious Springsteen aficionado.

If you watch the end of the interview, Costas says that Springsteen’s song “Glory Days” should now be on the top of Ledecky’s playlist.  Obviously, Costas has never listened to the lyrics of “Glory Days.”  It is a song about a guy who was a good high school baseball player but never really made it.  Now he sits around as “time slips away” sharing his “boring stories” of Glory Days.

Hardly the song that Ledecky wants on her playlist right now.  Somehow I also doubt that it is a song she will relate to thirty years from now.  “Time” will definitely “slip away,” but the stories she tells her kids, her grandchildren, and the people she meets in bars will hardly be “boring.”

 To put it differently, I doubt Katie Ledecky will become another Uncle Rico:

A Sportswriter Takes His Daughter to See “Hamilton”

00126-hamilton

This is a great piece by sportswriter Joe Posnanski about taking his 14-year old daughter to see Hamilton on Broadway.

I read this piece as a father of a 14-year old (actually, she turned 15 a couple of weeks ago) and as someone who is excited about the way this play is getting kids her age excited about history.

Here is a taste:

So, while it’s fresh in my mind now, I cannot imagine forgetting any detail of sitting with Elizabeth while we watched Hamilton. But I will forget. I will forget the details of this difficult but hopeful year. I will forget the size of eyes as she stared at the stage and tried to memorize it. I will forget because the years pile on, and memories cloud as they bump into each other, and I barely remember where I was yesterday.

But she will remember. That’s the thing. She will remember every detail. She will remember it the way I remember what it was like inside Cleveland Municipal Stadium with those stupid steel beams blocking every view of the field and the wind howling off of the Lake and the smell of stale beer and cigarette smoke. She will remember every little thing about that theater, about that stage, about Lin’s voice, about my jacket being around her shoulders, about Burr’s unplanned little laugh when watching King George dance, about that night.

Joe-Posnanski2

Joe Posnanski

 

As we walked out into New York, the echo of the show still ringing, she held on to me tight, and she stumbled because she was still inside the dream. She leaned up and kissed me on the cheek.

“Are you going to start crying again?” I asked her.

“No,” she said, but she did, just a little, and she clung to me tighter, and I leaned down and sang in her ear:

‘They’ll tell the story of tonight.”

She smiled and wiped away her tear. “They’ll tell the story of tonight,” she sang back.

Read the entire piece here.

 

What I Learned This Weekend

It has nothing to do with Martin Luther King Day, the inauguration of Barack Obama, the Harbaugh brothers, or virtually anything else of national significance that happened this weekend.  I spent the entire weekend driving back and forth from Mechanicsburg to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to watch my ninth-grade daughter play in a club volleyball tournament.

So here is what I learned (or relearned):

1.  The intensity in which one roots for one of his own children in a sporting event far exceeds the intensity in which one roots for his favorite professional or college sports team.

2.  It is possible for a parent to be more upset about a loss than the daughter who actually played the game.

3. I really like watching girls volleyball.

4.  It is possible to jam hundreds of people into the hallway of a small recreation center without breaking the fire code.

Allyson Fea in action

5. It is possible to get extremely excited about a girl’s volleyball game being played to decide 31st place in a tournament of 37 teams.

6. Volleyball referees may be the most anal-retentive people on the face of the planet.

7.  It is probably not a good idea to debut your team’s new victory dance in front of the parents of the team that you just beat.

8.  If your daughter’s team is eliminated from the tournament at 2:30pm, it is likely that they will need to hang around until 4:30pm because they have been scheduled to help with score keeping and refereeing duties.  There are no exceptions to this rule, as I learned from a disgruntled parent from Long Island who wanted to leave quickly in order to beat New York City traffic.

9.  If the sign on the gym door says “NO FOOD OR DRINK ON THE COURTS” a parent will inevitably spill his Diet Coke on the gym floor as he juggles a bag full of McDonald’s burgers and fries for his family who are on the courts watching a match.

10. The team that has five players over six feet tall has a good chance of winning any U-15 volleyball tournament.

Christian Smith Defends a Sociologist Whose Data Finds Fault With Same-Sex Relationships

According to Christian Smith, a professor of sociology and the director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society and the Center for Social Research at the University of Notre Dame, Mark Regnerus is being savaged by his fellow sociologists because he has published research that challenges progressive orthodoxy on the question of same-sex parenting.

In an article in Social Science Research, Regnerus, an associate professor at the University of Texas, argued that adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships, including same-sex couples as parents, have more emotional and social problems than do adult children of heterosexual parents with intact marriages.  Social Science Research is a peer-reviewed academic journal and its editor has stood by the piece.

Regnerus’s research has caused a major uproar in the sociology community.  He has even been attacked by members of his own department.  According to Smith, Regnerus’s article is offensive to the guardians of the liberal, progressive ethos of his discipline.  Smith writes:

The temptation to use academe to advance a political agenda is too often indulged in sociology, especially by activist faculty in certain fields, like marriage, family, sex, and gender. The crucial line between broadening education and indoctrinating propaganda can grow very thin, sometimes nonexistent. Research programs that advance narrow agendas compatible with particular ideologies are privileged. Survey textbooks in some fields routinely frame their arguments in a way that validates any form of intimate relationship as a family, when the larger social discussion of what a family is and should be is still continuing and worth having. Reviewers for peer-reviewed journals identify “problems” with papers whose findings do not comport with their own beliefs. Job candidates and faculty up for tenure whose political and social views are not “correct” are sometimes weeded out through a subtle (or obvious), ideologically governed process of evaluation, which is publicly justified on more-legitimate grounds—”scholarly weaknesses” or “not fitting in well” with the department.

To be sure, there are many sociologists—progressives and otherwise—who are good people, scholars, and teachers. But the influence of progressive orthodoxy in sociology is evident in decisions made by graduate students, junior faculty, and even senior faculty about what, why, and how to research, publish, and teach. One cannot be too friendly to religion, for example, such as researching the positive social contributions of missionary work overseas or failing to criticize evangelicals and fundamentalists. The result is predictable: Play it politically safe, avoid controversial questions, publish the right conclusions.

I am not a sociologist so I do not want to rush to judgment against the practitioners of the discipline.  But I do respect the work of Christian Smith and I am inclined to believe that what he has to say about the Regnerus case is correct.  If it is, this is a real shame–both for the discipline of sociology and for academia in general.