Why the connection between fathers and sports is inseparable

Published 10:33 pm Friday, June 15, 2018

The bond between a father and a son cannot be matched.

Mother figures are great and all, no doubt but there are certain subjects that only other men can decode.

I probably wouldn’t be in this position today if it weren’t for my father.

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Growing up in Atlanta, my dad took me to my first Hawks around the age of six. The only thing I really understood at the time about basketball was that Michael Jordan was the best player. He was in Space Jam and he had just came back from retirement to play on a new team as an old man. The more games we would go to, the more research I would do on the history of the NBA. The more times I would stop in the grocery store to read basketball magazines to find out who the superstars were. The knowledge got the point where I thought I knew everything that has ever happened in NBA history by the age of eight.

Of course, I didn’t but that’s beside the point.

Regardless of the various generational differences, my dad and I can always talk about the happenings around the sports world. The same goes for my stepfather, who probably despises 70 percent of the music I listen to but our relationship flows smoothly thanks to our ability to cheer with each other after every big play we saw on TV.

In the Greater Valley Area, you don’t have to search too far to see various father-son relationships in sports.

Chambers Academy athletic director Jason Allen’s son Payton is going into the new season as the Rebels’ starting quarterback. Allen also coaches Payton on the court as one of the leading scorers for Chambers. There aren’t many moments that Allen takes for granted, he said.

“It’s probably the greatest treasure in life and I don’t think that you can put any monetary value on the significance that it plays in our relationship,” he said. “This is something that we’ll be able to talk about for the rest of our lives. I wouldn’t trade it to make $11 million a year like Nick Saban. I wouldn’t trade it because you’re not going to get time back.”

Lanett High School athletic director and head football coach Clifford Story has coached all three of his sons during his tenure: Tre, Khristian “Ken Ken” and Caden Story. Tre currently plays at the University of Richmond, Ken Ken is one of the top-ranked athlete prospects nationally for the Class of 2020, and Caden is heading into his freshman year at Lanett as a multi-sport athlete.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Clifford Story said. “I can’t ask to be in a better position as a dad and to have kids who respond so well to you with the pressure to play so well for their dad. People expect so much out of them because I am their dad but I don’t treat them any differently out there on the field.”

Back on the national scale, Lavar Ball catches a lot of flak for how he manages his three sons’ highly-publicized basketball careers. If you peel off, however, all the outrageous headlines behind the newest reality show phenomenon, you simply see a father who loves his sons very much. In reality, Lavar is probably just saying out loud what every other father is thinking.

To all the fathers, stepfathers, mentors, teachers and other father figures out there, I thank you.