I hail from a city known for a famous publicly-owned sports franchise, and from a state known for its massive consumption of fatty animal-based foods and alcoholic beverages.
Our football team is named for meat packers, our baseball team for beer makers, and our major university mascot pays homage to lead miners. I have no problem honoring our historically important industries and cultural icons, but I don’t feel the need to perpetuate what I consider unhealthy and unsustainable practices. And it’s not out of disrespect to my ancestors that I’ve come to this point of view.
My favorite high school teacher, a Catholic sister, once suggested that some of my friends and I start a club called the Paradigm Shifters. I didn’t really understand what she meant at the time. But, looking back, I realize most of our loosely-defined group of musicians, writers, and assorted nerds were outspoken about rejecting the cultural norms of heterosexism, xenophobia, environmental degradation, poverty, animal abuse, drug and alcohol experimentation, and sports-glorification. Maybe we stood out. We definitely stood apart at our conservative Catholic college prep school.
As a father, I wonder what progressive ideals of my generation may seem like stale mores to my sons. Or, conversely, will they think I’ve been too radical on LGBTQ issues, animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and gender equity?
I was born into the land of bratwurst and beer, and I’m a tofu-munching teetotaler. What will my kids think of their dad’s weird choices? Is Sober Dad too boring and serious? Is gluten-free veggie dad too much of a drag at social gatherings?
However they feel about my radical leanings at any given point in their lives, at least we’ll be able to come together 16-20 times a year (like generations of Wisconsin sons and dads before us) and cheer for our historic, traditional, and totally socialist pro-football team.