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Failing miserably to master the balancing act amid a deluge of live sport

In a duel between parenting responsibly and satisfying one’s appetite for sport, there can be only one winner.

Another hectic weekend of sport is in the books.
Another hectic weekend of sport is in the books.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Updated Nov 23rd 2020, 3:00 PM

ONCE UPON A time I used to limit my caffeine consumption in the evenings.

Breaking the no-coffee-after-6pm rule could keep me awake at night, so it was a risk not worth taking.

Nowadays that rule is obsolete. Since kids arrived and seized control of my life, there are nights when I wouldn’t back myself to make it up the stairs to bed without the aid of a double espresso.

Coffee was at the forefront of my plans for the Saturday morning of the weekend before last, which began with the rugby international between New Zealand and Argentina.

The presence in my home of a boy who has yet to develop an appreciation for staying in bed beyond 6am ensured that I’d be up just in time for kick-off. Every cloud etc…

When his older sister emerged as half-time approached and expressed her disapproval of my choice of programming, it set the tone for what was to become of my naive hopes of spending a decent portion of the weekend in front of the television.

“Look,” I pleaded with my four-year-old commander-in-chief while flicking through the channels, “Paw Patrol isn’t on at the moment.”

“So just put on Netflix and we’ll watch it there,” she countered.

And so it came to pass that while the Pumas were recording their historic win over the All Blacks, our TV was devoted to a team of canine superheroes.

Later in the day, while Jake Morris made shit of Cork’s All-Ireland prospects with a late goal for Tipperary, I was preoccupied with a type of excrement that brings in €7 billion a year for Pampers.

jake-morris-scores-a-goal Jake Morris scores a goal in the Tipperary hurlers' recent win over Cork. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Raising children requires the making of sacrifices – it’s what you sign up for – but can a man not be left alone to suffer through his county’s painful yet inevitable exit from the hurling championship in peace?

Having been deprived of live sport for much of this year, we’re now being compensated with copious amounts of the stuff. As a parent, enjoying any of it has been far more challenging than I could have anticipated, which raises the question:

Is there such a thing as too much sport?

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It’s a possibility I found myself considering once again over the past 48 hours as another hectic weekend of fixtures was served up across various codes.

The one-year-old’s afternoon nap on Saturday coincided with the first All-Ireland hurling quarter-final. As I pounded the pavements with the buggy, a glance at Twitter revealed that I was missing out on a championship match for the ages being delivered by Tipp and Galway.

Right on cue, as if directorial control of my life had been taken over by Wes Anderson, the mucky remnants of some spot-flooding were foisted upon my pants by a passing car.

A WhatsApp group populated by friends with children of their own was soon abuzz with in-play analysis, leaving me wondering why I seem to be the only eejit getting the balancing act wrong.

My last-ditch attempt at reasoning with an infant – “please go to sleep so I can go home, Joe Canning has just made it a draw game” – unfortunately fell on deaf ears.

That evening, I thought I had identified an opportunity to get a look at the Tottenham-Manchester City game when my wife, upon recognising my growing levels of despair, temporarily released me from the shackles of fatherhood.

britain-soccer-premier-league Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola during Saturday's game. Source: Neil Hall

My plans were scuppered, however, when I discovered that the TV was being commandeered for the first Christmas movie of the season. The Grinch, not content with stealing Christmas, was now coming for the Premier League title race too, the selfish git.

The last two weekends have revealed that a sporting schedule as stacked as the one we’re currently in the midst of doesn’t go hand-in-hand with effective and responsible parenting.

Indeed, no one wants to look back in years to come and realise that they missed something significant in their child’s upbringing for the sake of the 12.30pm kick-off between Bournemouth and Reading.

But without this deluge of live action, getting through these bleak winter weeks and months, of which there are many still to come, would be a much grimmer proposition.

Too much sport? Try telling that to the football people of Tipperary and Cavan this morning.

Keep it coming, but at least ask the kids to share the TV with the grown-ups.

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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