Gay Dads and Team Sports: Can’t We Just Get Along?

It was always in the back of our minds. Something was telling us You really should sign your kids up for some form of team sport. Neither of us is good at team sports. Okay, as a kid in the Netherlands I played hockey for one season. The kind of hockey that's not played on the ice, but on a field. Yes, that's right, field hockey. No, I didn't wear a skirt. Yes, over there it's also a guy sport. There and in many other countries in the world. Never mind; I'm getting defensive.

Eventually, Brian did sign up two of our kids for baseball: Levi, who is almost 7, and Sadie, who is 5½.

And this past Saturday, April 9, was the day of reckoning. The day the people in our neighborhood were going to find out what they had suspected all along: that the gay guys and their three kids didn't know a thing about sports.

Don't get me wrong, our kids are active. They ride bikes and scooters. They love to jump on the neighbor's trampoline. We take them to parks most weekends. They run, play hide and seek, they dance. But team sports? We really haven't exposed them to that concept.

And as a result, our kids can't throw a ball, much less catch one. Can they hit one? I have no idea. We don't own a bat – is that what the stick is called? – and I don't think they've ever even had one in their hands. (When we lived in Canada, the kids played street hockey every now and then. They were – How shall I put this delicately?terrible at it.)

So, Saturday: the first day of Little League for Levi and Sadie. It was a cold day, rainy. On weekends we never set our alarms, because the kids will wake us up early. It's much easier to get them up on the weekends than it is on a school day! Always. But not this Saturday. We woke up at 8:15 a.m., the time we should have been at the baseball fields. We decided on the following shameful plan of action: Brian would take Levi and Sadie to the fields, pick up their outfits, sorry, uniforms, use the cockamamy excuse that they couldn't play because they were so late, and run home again. In the meantime, I would take Ella to get everybody some breakfast. We felt slightly guilty, but we were so relieved.

When I was getting bagels, Brian called me to come to the fields because the kids wanted to stay and play. They were hungry and so they needed their bagels pronto.

When I arrived at the athletic fields with the bagels there were already more than a hundred kids with baseball mitts, in jerseys emblazoned with their names. Lopez. Weiner. Delgado. Levi and Sadie had just put on their jerseys. Their last name – Rosenberg-Van Gameren – barely fit. It seemed unpleasantly long, somewhat pretentious, and, well, gay, and not in a good way.

Sadie, who of our three kids is the one most interested in sports, was upset about her clothes. She loudly complained about her orange jersey. She put on the uniform pants over her jeans. Then she took her jeans off, and put on just the baseball pants. When a ball came flying in her direction, she was busy changing her socks, a bagel hanging from her mouth. I hung my head in shame.

I quietly left the scene of my child's crime. It was time to make my way to Levi's game on the other end of the fields. He needed breakfast. I passed dads expertly pitching balls to their sons and daughters; mothers were hauling bags with snacks, mainly Goldfish and Capri Sun juice pouches.

Before I knew it, I stepped onto Levi's field. A coach wearily ushered me to a more appropriate perch. “No, not there. No no, not there either. Yes, there. Okay." To the parents staring at me I smiled apologetically.

I took out a bagel for Levi, but before I could it hand to him, it was his turn to bat. The pitcher gave some incomprehensible instructions and comments. “Nice setup," he told my kid. “Keep it tight. Connect with the ball."

I got my iPhone ready to record the impending debacle. He missed the first ball. And the second. And then he hit a home run.

I can't wait for next week's baseball game!

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Posted by Ferd van Gameren

Ferd van Gameren, a native of the Netherlands, moved to the United States chasing adventure and a graduate degree. Since then he has taught Latin, Ancient Greek and English at independent schools in Massachusetts and New York for quite a few years. After living in Canada for almost six years, he and his (Gays With Kids co-founder) husband Brian Rosenberg recently moved with their three children back to New York City.

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