I knew I wanted to take my 4-year-old to a Cougar Football game since she was probably six months old. Now, that I am the father of a 4-year-old girl, I realize how questionable this desire is compared to reality.
Nevertheless, my dad and I decided it was time for my daughter to make a game. And so we decided to go, with minimal thought to the reality of that my she might hate it.
Luckily, she loved it.
We left super early and took the two hour drive from our home north of Pullman, Washington. We got there plenty early to get a great parking spot and to be able to walk around campus with my daughter before the game.
While she is four, and doesn’t quite grasp the idea of college, she did understand that I used to work there. And as we ran into people I knew from working at Washington State University she seemed to enjoy it more and more. It was connecting her dad now to someplace new for her.
Ultimately, she liked the game because of the people.
Our team won the game in the final minutes and since it was such a close game all day, people were jumping up and down, high-fiving, and yelling ‘Go Cougs!’ at each other. And she loved every minute of the celebration and excitement.
We Made A Memory
At some point during the fourth quarter, as the game was close and the stadium was loud. My daughter and I were sitting in our seats. She was in my lap under a blanket eating the Crazin’s out of the trail mix we brought with us. She was snuggled in and looks up at me.
“Daddy, this has been so much fun!”
Her smile and words melted my heart. We sat back and watched as our team went on to win and celebrated with the thousands of other people when the game was completed. It was great. And the next day, my daughter asked to go back to another game because she had so much fun.
It was a fun day, we had a stadium hot dog and hot cocoa at the end of the game when it was getting cold. We walked all over campus and talked to dozens of people. My dad even took us to the student book store and loaded us up on Cougar gear. All in all, it was a good game day experience.
What I Learned From Taking My Daughter to a College Football Game
As a father, there are always lessons to learn when it comes to doing new things with our children. Whether it is going to the doctor’s office or going to a sporting event. We never really know how things will turn out and we always will learn something important.
With this experience, I learned a three important things about my daughter and about taking her to a sporting event.
1️⃣ The Entire Day Needs A Plan
This shouldn’t be a surprise me as my wife is very similar in this regard. Part of the reason the day was so successful is how we planned out what we were going to do before the game, during the game, and after the game.
Before hand, we were going to get lunch (I brought a back up lunch just in case my daughter didn’t want what was available). And then we went to the book store and picked up some cool things.
During the game, we focused on some sporting event essentials: hot dog at the stadium, hot cocoa when it gets cold, free things they hand out when you come into the stadium. And we made sure to have blankets as it started to get cold and windy.
Afterwards, we brought my sweet girl’s pajamas so she could fall asleep on the drive home. This way she was comfortable and cozy for the drive with traffic and could fall asleep right away.
2️⃣ We Talked About Things We Saw at the Stadium
I tried preparing my daughter ahead of time for people who would get excited when things were good and angry when things are bad with the game. And my team tends to invoke all of these within a matter of minutes. This was helpful when people were throwing 2-year-old-style temper tantrums.
However, we had to have a few impromptu chats during the game.
For example, there was a young college girl who decided to dress with as little clothes as possible. My daughter asked where her clothes were. So we discussed the importance of modesty and respecting her body and how this girl may have felt the need to do what everyone else was doing to feel accepted. Which isn’t what we do in our family.
We also had to discuss why people were falling over themselves coming in and out of the stadium. After all, college students get drunk sometimes coming to college football games. We discussed why some people get carried away drinking and how this is something we don’t do in our family too.
Ultimately, we had a few good conversation which I hope provided a first point of contact foundation in my daughter’s mind. Since we were able to talk about it together, I think it will help my sweet girl in the future. And we still had a lot of fun.
3️⃣ The Day is About Her, Nothing and Nobody Else
If she needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of a really important drive, we went to the bathroom. If she need another bottle of water or a snack while we were in the closing minutes of a tight game, we got those things.
The day, while it is centered around the football game, was about having fun with my daughter. And that means as a father, sacrificing my wants and needs related to the event in order to make it a fun day for her. And to create a memory which will last.
We snagged this picture for Instagram late in the fourth quarter while there was a TV timeout. She was having the time of her life and I was enjoying how much fun she enjoyed the close game.
In the closing minutes, our team scored to come from behind and stopped the other team from scoring to secure the win. In these moments, everyone around the stadium starts to hug and high-five, and yell “GO COUGS” at each other. Every kid gets a high-five from every adult as they pass by and my daughter loved it.
“Daddy? Did our team win?” she asked as time expired and the fireworks started going off.
“They sure did baby, what did you think of the game?” I asked as we stood there in the stands.
“This is the best day ever,” she said smiling as big as her little face would let her. Full of pride, I held her and we hooted and hollered with the rest of the crowd.
The next morning she woke up and came out to the living room where I was sitting and writing.
“Daddy, can we go to the football game next week?” she asked with a sleep grin. Oh boy, do I wish we could go again. We will probably try and make another game this year, but this one was the perfect game to start her on.
Have you ever taken your kids to a sporting event? How did you prepare? What was the best part? Was it an utter disaster? Share in the responses below.