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On Saturday, I asked my 10-year-old son if he wanted to watch Sunday's football playoff between our hometown New York Jets and the Indianapolis Colts.
"Just remember -- we'll be watching the WHOLE game," I said, making it clear I wasn't going to play Daddy-sitter the moment he started getting bored, other than to refill the bowls of chips and dip.
Not knowing a field goal from a field trip -- and not really caring either -- my son passed. I have plenty of time for him to grow into a sports fan. I was a late bloomer myself, which probably frustrated my Dad, known in some circles in his past life as "Howie Basketball."
But as I watched the overmatched Jets getting schooled by Indianapolis, and later that day, a clumsy game of "who can screw up more" between Minnesota and New Orleans, I thought of what my son missed -- not just a couple of important football games, but some vital, growing-up lessons you can only get from watching real life play out before you:
1) Even superstars can make a mistake at any moment.
2) Practice and preparation pay off.
3) In both sports and life, decisions are as important as actions.
4) Redemption follows patience.
5) You need to protect what's yours.
6) Some fates are determined by you, others by coin toss.
7) Age says little about ability.
8) Age says little about maturity.
9) The best defense can often be a strong offense. The best offense can often be purchased for the right price.
10) Trite but true: There's always next year.