It shouldn’t be a surprise that your children do not belong to the same generation as you.
In fact, my daughter, born in December of 2019 is a member of Generation Alpha. That makes her two generations removed from her Millennial dad.
But it wasn’t until recently that this idea hit home for me. To nobody’s surprise, it happened through the lens of sports fandom.
Recently, a friend of mine, and a huge Buffalo Bills fan, posted on Facebook after the Bills secured the AFC East title, breaking the Patriots’ stranglehold on the division.
Here was his message:
“My wife and I were blessed with the birth of a baby girl in September of 2019. I’m so thankful each and every day she’s alive on this Earth and I look forward to watching the Bills game with her every Sunday and get to share so many special moments in this franchise’s history with her even though she doesn’t have a clue what is going on. Just having her in my arms and being able to experience that with someone that doesn’t realize the pain and heartbreak we’ve had to endure for 25 years and the 4 super bowl losses makes my heart melt to the core. All she knows is the Bills being a successful football franchise with two playoff appearances and a division title in her lifetime. I hope this continues to be the trend for a large portion of the beginning of her life and we have many more incredible memories ahead of us...“
It was an interesting perspective, and it got me thinking about my own situation. I had never thought about the fact that my daughter, who turned one in December, was arriving in this world on the flip side of that situation.
“That’s Not a World She Was Ever a Part Of”
Just a few weeks after my daughter was born, New England lost their 2019 season finale to the lowly Dolphins. They missed out on a bye into the divisional round, and for the first time since 2009, would have to play on the postseason’s opening weekend.
A week later, New England’s season ended with a home loss to Tennessee in the Wild Card round. An eight-year streak of New England playing in the Conference Championship game ended.
The loss to the Titans was sealed with a pick-six on what we would soon learn was Tom Brady’s last pass as a New England Patriot. A few weeks later, it was announced that the GOAT was on his way to Tampa Bay.
My daughter would never see Brady play as a New England Patriot. That wasn’t her generation. It wasn’t a world that she was ever a part of. More importantly, she would never see Brady WIN as a Patriot.
This year was an obvious disaster for the Patriots. Anyone arriving on the planet in the past 12 months would know only a world in which the Pats were a mediocre team that struggles to hang on to a spot “In the Hunt” when the Playoff Picture graphics are flashed on TV.
In her world, the more successful team owned by Robert Kraft is the New England Revolution.
What is Boston as a sports town right now?
It doesn’t just stop with the Patriots. What does Boston have to show for itself right now?
A dismal baseball team. An aging hockey team, whose one Stanley Cup a decade ago looks more and more like lightning in a bottle. And a basketball team that can’t attract superstars or retain talent long enough to get over the last hurdle .
For those without the benefit of recency bias from the past 20 years, are we “Title Town”? Or are we just another sports city with a long history and passionate, opinionated fans?
There are no titles in this town for anyone born in the past year and a half. Even the 2018 World Series won by the Red Sox and the Pats’ 2019 Super Bowl are too long ago to offset my daughter’s “knowledge” of the current Boston sports climate.
This is All Hypothetical, Of Course
Obviously, neither my daughter nor my friend’s daughter understand any of this right now. It will be years before they know what rooting for their team feels like. That’s assuming they ever even care (fingers crossed!).
Maybe five years from now Boston will be back. Or maybe it will be friends from Detroit, or Philly, or Miami, or Denver posting about how their little ones know only a world of sports dominance.
Right now, these infants assume that people wear masks any time they gather together or go into a store. God willing, that will not be a reality for them for much longer.
Good or bad, nothing is forever.
But as we near Super Bowl LV, these are the only truths in our daughters’ first years on this Earth:
The Buffalo Bills are the best team in the AFC East, maybe in the AFC overall. The top quarterback in the division is still obvious, only this time it is Josh Allen and not Tom Brady leading the pack.
One dad is shaking off years of torture. The other is remembering what it’s like to not be watching meaningful games in January.
There is likely no other set of fanbases that could have as contrasting experiences as the Patriots and Bills. Division rivals, a changing of the guard at quarterback, and most importantly, the unprecedented string of dominance for one and ineptitude for the other. Only with long periods of success or failure can there be such stark realizations when those situations flip.
Make no mistake, this is a new generation. Just look at it through the eyes of a one year old.
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