Beware: Of necessity this article will occasionally venture into R rated territory.
Like most adults – for that matter anyone who is post-toddler – I have various and sometimes conflicting hats that I wear. Somewhere in college (probably Sociology 101; my oldest grandchildren’s intro level courses were much more specific and interesting than mine were) I learned the term “role conflict”. Basically it means you have multiple obligations which often will conflict. I am having one of those situations this summer. I also got to experience something because of a special part of the relationship I have with my oldest grandson. I promise this all makes sense and ties into contemporary American politics. Please come along and let’s explore.
If you haven’t guessed by now my favorite “job” is being grandpa. Since I retired from a regular job my role conflict is diminished but I still can’t do two things at once and certainly can’t simultaneously be multiple places. By design I actually lose a few bucks a year on this site but I take it very seriously. In order to do a good job I need to stay informed and part of that process is watching TV.
This is the second summer in a row that my wife and I have our youngest granddaughter spending the summer with us. Her older cousins did this in the past and it gave us all wonderful memories as well as solid relationships that will endure. During the Monica Lewinsky scandal I always thought the right wingers were being hyperbolic when they said they couldn’t turn on the news with their children around. They didn’t want to have to explain what oral sex or a blowjob was. Have you listened to the supposedly political news lately? Rape, sexual assault and pedophilia are often leading stories. I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to protecting “little ears”. I’m also a typical male (atypical in that I will admit it) in that I’m a coward when it comes to addressing certain topics with my younger granddaughters and conveniently (for me) leave that to the women folk.
On more than one occasion this summer I have had to hit the pause button during a newscast or abruptly change radio stations. Whatever happened to arguing over budgets and taxes? The kids would tune that out.
I’m a typical American baby boomer in that I grew up mainly playing baseball and almost completely ignorant of soccer. My oldest grandson changed that over many years. I started taking him to soccer sessions before he was in kindergarten. He is now a very good high school player. Over the years I’ve watched him play countless games and been the ride to many soccer practices. In addition to physical skills he really understands the game which actually has a lot of strategic similarities to basketball so we have great conversations. From complete ignorance I have come to really enjoy the beauty of the game. These days I often find myself watching soccer on Spanish language television. One thing to note: I don’t understand Spanish (one of my regrets is not having taken it in school). I simply love the beauty of the game played at a proficient level.
Many of the women in my family accuse me of being somewhat of a chauvinist when it comes to women’s sports. They want equality regardless of any other factors. Since most of my sports experience comes from basketball, I have generally seen an inferior product that didn’t draw much participation and “justified” lesser resources based on that. (I bet I just pissed off a lot of my readers.)
Now back to my oldest grandson. In my soccer hunger I started watching the recent Women’s World Cup. I will admit that the publicity about the Megan Rapinoe-led anti-Trump rhetoric contributed to my interest. By the time we got to the quarter finals I actually blocked out the time to watch the game live and in its entirety. Role conflict prevented me from doing the same with the finals but I taped it and watched it a few hours later.
A big issue is the fact that the U.S. women are being paid significantly less than the U.S. men. In this case I can see no justifications other than taking advantage of the situation, exploiting labor and misogyny. The women are winning more than the men. OK, it’s a business and we have to look at the revenue. The women are outdrawing the men and are selling more products. They are bringing in more revenue. The girls’ basketball team at your local high school may not be as exciting to watch as the boys’ team and they may not be able to pack the gym which can justify the inequity in many minds but this is not the case with USA soccer. I’m not asking that the women be given equal pay; I’m saying they have earned it on the field and in the ledger books.
The part of me who loves to see a bully get taken down by a girl took special joy when the Golden Ball Award (effectively the World Cup MVP award) was presented to Rapinoe by the de facto leader of the free world, French President Emmanuel Macron. I’m sure they had no problem communicating since Macron speaks English better than Trump does.
I could stop writing this column anytime I wanted to. I’d have a few more hours and a bit less role conflict. My motivation is my grandchildren. I want to do my tiny bit to leave them the American democracy that I enjoyed and an inhabitable planet. On rare occasion I have to use a dirty word of two in that quest.
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