The protest cries went up as soon as I grabbed the remote. “Look,” I tried to explain. “You guys both know that I rarely interrupt your viewing of episodes of Phineas and Ferb that you’ve seen several dozen times to watch sports. But this is my school, San Diego State, and they are playing an important game against our hated rivals, the BYU Cougars, a team of degenerate cheaters and thugs from an awful school full of terrible people.” A reasonable request. Zoe was having none of it. Her measured response: “I HATE STUPID FOOTBALL!”

AztecsCollege football fandom is a curious thing, at least to me. This has everything to do with the fact that I went to San Diego State University, a school whose most notable Football Moment was the Marshall Faulk Era. Faulk electrified audiences at the time; he’d go on to a successful NFL career, and the Aztec football program would go on to continued mediocrity. I’m not a TV Sports Guy, but school loyalty dies hard. In the great grand scheme of things, the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl was fairly low on the list, but I was interested in the outcome. The Aztecs had a long and noble history of falling valiantly to the Cougars. Perhaps this game would be different. And at the very least, the kids would have the opportunity to watch their old man’s team. I’m a believer in the concept of Being Knowledgeable: one doesn’t need to be an expert on all things, but one should be able to speak intelligently about many things. Lucas has been asking about Pop Warner football, and Zoe…well, this is 2012, so why shouldn’t she know a bit about football? After a few minutes of grumbling, both of them settled into the couch.

The game was a “defensive struggle” – the polite way to describe a snoozer with a 6 to 3 score going into the 4th quarter. Zoe’s interest was piqued, to my eternal shame, when an Aztec player bobbled a fairly straightforward pass. “Look Daddy,” she said. “Your guy dropped the ball. That’s silly!” She jumped up out of her seat when the SDSU cheerleaders came on the screen. “Cheerleaders!,” she yelled. I mumbled something to her about not becoming a cliché when she’s older. The game dragged on; I had to take Lucas out to buy his sister a Christmas present, and there was nothing in the Aztecs’ play to indicate that something exciting would be happening any time soon. Zoe’s interest left as we did – she got up and wandered over to her pile of Barbies – although she did tell me that she hoped my team would win the game.

I often wonder if my kids are missing out on anything by being “real” fans of sports teams. After all, it’s fun to root for someone. The Aztecs would be a good choice for them: Beth and I both went to school there, their basketball teams (men’s and women’s) are among the nation’s best, and their football team has been on an upswing for the past couple of years. Maybe this Poinsettia Bowl would see them turn a corner, delivering a victory and making two new fans in the process. They didn’t, of course.

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