Rick Marin’s Keep Swinging weaves a tale of a father who has as much interest in sports as most of us dads have in the band One Direction. However, as Marin guides the reader through his son’s sports-centric world, he slowly finds his inner jock begins to emerge.
Marin writes, “One of the things about fatherhood is it’s not about you anymore.” Marin, a former journalist turned scriptwriter, realizes that his son’s love of everything sport requires him to get involved or miss out on his son’s formative years. What initially starts out with a simple catch in the backyard soon leads to Marin diving in headfirst into his son’s universe. Soon, basketball and hockey enter the schedule and Marin slowly finds the tendrils of a newly found testosterone emerging in his life. His negotiation skills in searching for a new house suddenly become grittier to the point he finds himself leaping over a fence to check out a potential home. The conversations with his agent are now delivered with more “oomph” as he struggles to get a script bought. His competitive nature ascends as the addictive game “Angry Birds” enters his household with a fury bridging yet another gap of father and son playtime.
The relationship between Marin and his wife ebbs and flows as he transitions into a “Dad-who’s-kind-of-getting-into-sports”. As Dads, we do our best to do the right thing, and of course, we fail miserably at times in the eyes of our spouses. When Marin’s wife, Ilene expresses concern about their son not shooting the ball enough during basketball games, Marin comes to his defense using his newly found sports quotes. He responds with, “You know what Phil Jackson told Michael Jordan? There’s no I in team,” believing he had come up with the perfect counterargument. She replies, “Yeah. You know what Jordan said back? ‘There is an “I” in win,”’ thereby quelling all rumors that we will never win an argument with our wives… regardless of topic.
I found the most enlightening part of Keep Swinging was finding Marin opening doors into a world he never thought he would visit. When his sons were asked to go camping (on a golf course), Marin addresses his trepidation in a humorous fashion. He writes, “Once again, fatherhood was forcing me to overcome my most primal phobias. In this case, a night exposed to the elements- and being seen in a tucked-in golf shirt.” He drives his son to 6 a.m. hockey practice, he becomes an assistant baseball coach and he returns to the same country club for a grandiose Super Bowl party. He slowly finds himself becoming more interested in sports, and something clicks as finds a segment on SportsCenter more interesting than what his wife has to say. Marin writes, “Sports fans are happier than nonfans.”
As an avid sports nut myself, a fantasy football junkie (SIDENOTE: I’m the defending NYC Dads Group fantasy football champion), and a screamer at my favorite team when they do something stupid, I can relate. Dads who are sports fans need this outlet to keep our feet dipped in the proverbial Ocean of Sanity. In a world of Legos, crayons, Bob the Builder, Laurie Berkner CDs on repeat, and diapers, the sight of the pigskin arcing through the air into our starting fantasy football WR’s arms for a TD is a beautiful brushstroke in the art of the balance called life for the sports fan Dad.
I devoured Marin’s short story in less than an hour and kicked myself for putting off this great tale for a few months. For $1.99 this Kindle story is beyond worth it and makes for a quick, enlightening read into the ironic way how our children can mold our lives just as we are intended as parents to do so.
Vincent O'Keefe says
Thanks for reminding me about this story. It has been on my “to-read” list for a while, so off to Kindle I’ll go. And congrats on your second child!
It was a great nap time read. Thanks for the suggestion!