I had a conversation recently about the pros and cons of taking your kid to a football game. Traditionally, I viewed football matches as a place for men. Yeah, yeah I know - so sexist and yes I agree but the reality is that it is still mainly a male past time.
Is it wise to allow your young one to be in an environment where language can be, ahem, choice or where certain songs are at best, questionable?
I am a Rangers FC fan, whereas my wife and her side are mostly Celtic FC fans. She knows full well the kinds of banter, which goes on between both sets of fans. I'm sure it's the same for other rivalries too; Liverpool vs Man Utd, Giants vs Jets, Madrid vs Barcelona, Knicks vs Celtics.
For this post I really just have football (soccer) in mind. Many stadiums now have family sections with things like face painting and goodie bags. However, a football game is still a football game and unless you're packing noise protectors, it's likely there'll be some things you just can't avoid.
So, here are five pros and cons...
Getting your kid to follow 'your team' from a young age. Embedding the culture of the club in their psyche from the earliest possible point.
Do you really want to be the kind of parent that forces your child into anything? Ultimately, this is denying them the choice to get involved with either another team or even another sport.
Letting them enjoy a big game atmosphere and lap up the euphoria of being the winning team!
There's a 50/50 chance the team will lose. And when they do, the accompanying language and misery from supposedly adult males would turn the air sour.
Enjoying the banter and songs on the supporters bus on the way to the game. What's better than everyone singing along to get pumped up for the game.
Depending on the team you support, particularly in the west of Scotland, certain songs are not what you want your innocent young protege knowing.
Your kid will instantly discover a new hero; whether it's the start forward, the classy midfielder or the burly defender. They will emulate him and use him as a totem for the foreseeable future.
You will be required by parenting law to purchase the replica kit. Oh and that will also have to have to the player's name and number at additional cost too!
Having a team and identity as a supporter adds to the enthusiasm your young 'un will develop to get into the sport. Surely this is a good thing?
As any dad who used to play schoolboy football will attest; the chance of 'making it' is a million to one. Suddenly you have a kid who couldn't be bothered with their school work and is filling in their Burger King application form.
Okay, so that's kind of a bleak worst case scenario.
Would you do it? Is there a minimum age before you can hit the big match with little Jimmy or Jemma?