The Color Purple
My daughter loves the color purple, and that's a relief. I don’t mean the movie, although , thanks to Grandma she’s much more than just faintly familiar with Oprah Winfrey. More simply, I mean the color…she loves the color purple. She gets inundated regularly with many things maize and blue, and that's fine. It might even come to be a natural thing, growing up in the shadow of the big house, and what is certainly the biggest collegiate marketing machine this side of Cam Newton, but falling in love with the color purple, well, that was something that I was worried about. A child growing up in the Great Lakes Basin isn’t exactly predisposed to Los Angeles Laker fandom, at least not in the post-Magic era of Laker loving, and especially not within a decent chest pass of the Palace of Auburn Hills and the Detroit Pistons. The truth is it was going to take a lot to make Zoey a Laker fan. Liking the color purple is an exciting and encouraging start.
We don’t have cable television at our house. Well, we do, but it’s thanks to a friend with pliers and ambition who helped us move five years ago. That unsolicited act of larceny was his oh-so generous gift to us on moving day. We had neither the courage nor the inclination to call the cable company and explain to them that we’d like to order the sports package, allowing us full access to the NBA’s League Pass, or the Big Ten Network, or any of the other cable entrees that we were interested in sampling. Instead, we were happy to just to leave things as they were, and we would much more affordably watch what happens to be on television rather than force our will on the great gaping universe of entertainment options. We’re not cheap, we’re just not eager to spend all that hard earned loot on something we don’t really need. Regardless, all it really means is that we get to watch about a dozen Laker games a year, maybe. It’s a hapless, nearly hopeless notion that our daughter might grow up fully appreciating that same thing that Jack Nicholson and her father so vigorously do. The Los Angeles Lakers have been a constant in my life since I was nine years old, but it might be too much to imagine that my daughter finds them quite as intriguing as I do. The purple helps, and popcorn too.
Zoey has already figured out that settling in on the couch with her Dad to watch whatever sporting event is on television is the easiest way to avoid many of life’s less appealing expectations – dinner time, bath time, bed time – and a regular dose of purple and gold would do wonders for the subtle, muted effort to win her over completely. Unfortunately, bedtime for this almost two-year old occurs far earlier than the West coast's version of Pacific prime time, and we don't tape and record and watch later in our household. It just doesn't happen. Instead we miss games, we color, and we go on adventures. Becoming a Laker fan will take significant influence from Zoey's father and he's just not sure he wants to be that guy.
I always said that I wouldn't try to influence my child when it came to such a stupid thing as sports...but I am. I can't help it. She can already scream "GO BLUE," and "MEEEECHIGAN!" at the top of her lungs, and she's beyond eager to jump up and down when the Red Wings score, or when the Tigers swat a home run, but she's hopelessly indifferent (as is half the sporting public these days) when an NBA game is on the television. In fact, she's much more likely to call it soccer than basketball, and she usually doesn't care at all when sneaker squeaks and dribbling basketball sounds fill the air. She just doesn't care. She likes purple though, so there's still a chance.
Maybe I can get her to fall in love with the colors. There aren't many sports uniforms in the world that are as recognizable as the Laker's purple and gold. Or maybe she'll find the Laker Girls intriguing? She is a little girl after all, and little girls like all that glittery dancing, prancing stuff, don't they? Maybe she'll grow up and find the star studded crowd something to take interest in? Maybe she'll spot Justin Bieber sitting courtside, freak out, and then never miss another game? It's all possible, but the notion that I might help her become a fan by telling her stories of the kind of absolute star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was, or the kind of Magic Earvin Johnson was capable of...the freak that Kurt Rambis was, or the what the sheer obscentity of the Kobe - Shaq championship combo was is ridiculous...I certainly won't be able to pull her in by telling her how cool Pau Gasol is, or the kind of stellar Dad Derek Fisher is, or what kind of Zen master buddhist, voo-doo freak Phil Jackson was...My only hope might rest with the color purple. I might be able to inspire a tough-to-explain hatred of all things green and white, both Spartans and Celtics, but even that would fall remarkably short of meaning anything to her. Purple is the key...purple is everything.
My only fleeting hope is that the Lakers stay relevant, stay perennially awesome, because kids smell winners from a million miles away. Kids are unabashed bandwagoners, fickle front runners, and wildly flavor-of-the-month infatuated funsters. If the Lakers stay worth their weight in gold (no cheap ass pun intended) and she can find even a passing interest in basketball, they'll lure her in. A kid will align themselves with a winner way faster than they'll heartlessly mock a loser. Winners attract kids...period. Kids don't want to bear the burden of losing. They don't want to wear the sign of happless failure (so there no chance Zo becomes a Pistons fan). As long as the Lakers stay good, there's a better than average chance that my daughter never, ever becomes a Celtics fan. I'll cross my fingers but I'm really putting all my chips on the purple thing. I'll drench her in purple. I'll plaster her bedroom in purple and gold. I'll bake purple cupcakes on her birthday. I'll shamelessly wear Laker gear in her presence. I'll take her to Laker road games decked out in stylish, glittery, little girl loving purpleness. Purple...that's the key.