My oldest son turned eight last month. Lately, we've bonded over sports. While I consider myself a sports fan, I'm hardly a fanatic and really would be as comfortable bonding with him over books, music, science or just about anything else as much as sports.
The fall is a fun time to enjoy sports together, both playing and watching. A budding baseball groupie, he's very excited about the World Series even though his two favorite teams were eliminated. We also live in a town where football is king, and our professional football team is the best in the nation right now.
Despite the fun and quality time we have watching sports together I've been very uncomfortable, to the point where I'm not sure if I want him to watch. The problem is the commercials.
I understand that football and baseball are a business and they need to sell advertising that appeals to their core audiences. The message seems to me that the audience is men younger than 21 or older than 65. It seems every other commercial is for a violent movie coming to theaters soon or for viagra/cialis.
I know my son will soon be exposed to violence and sexuality in popular culture all too soon, but I still want to keep him young and innocent for as long as possible. I'm not sure which bothers me more - the violence or the sexuality.
Whenever a violent commercial comes on (lately its been for the "Three Musketeers" over and over and over again) I'll turn the channel or cover his eyes. He gets that he shouldn't watch it, and while I've sensed some curiousity from him lately I think for hte most part he would cover his own eyes if he knew there was violent content on the television. (He really doesn't like violence of any kind.)
On the other hand the Viagra commercials are less in your face but even more of a challenge to explain. Fortunately he generally tunes it out and I don't think he's caught the content of it. But he's a smart kid with real good listening skills. I fully expect him to ask me very soon "what is a four hour erection?"
So, I hate to say this, but fortunately the World Series is just about over. We enjoyed a a great season and a very fun playoffs. My eight year old really isn't that into football, so I think I've got at least until next spring to wrestle with this one.
(photo credit: http://media.carbonated.tv/39689_story__507.jpg)