One of our favorite parts about working around and in professional sports for now a combined 20-years is the wide range of people you meet at games, workouts, in the gym or on the field…especially the guys who balance both “work” with fatherhood. Talking sports and the ups and downs about being a dad at the same time really doesn’t get much better, so that’s why — from sports writers, to players, stay-at-home dads, coaches, the divorced-dad, announcers, bring-to-practice-and-the-game dad, authors, the janitor and the GM’s, sports brands and sports business bros — we are rolling out this Sports Dad Series to help share those stories on the Same 8 Questions about juggling sports and fatherhood. Our hope — words of wisdom for new dads, veteran dads and the dads in pro sports to keep family first (right after you check the score of the game). Thanks for reading and make sure to stay connected with us on social (Twitter – Instagram – Facebook). – Wendell Maxey and Gino Pilato
Do your kids (daughter/son) know what you do for a living?
Of course. My daughter Casey is 13, my son Emmett is 10. A couple of weeks ago Casey came home from middle school all excited, because—randomly—her math teacher was reading one of my books.They’re used to me after all these years, so it’s never a big deal to them if I’m on TV or doing an event. But I think they’re proud.
What is the key to juggling fatherhood and your profession?
Always reminding myself how quickly the time flies by. I work from home a lot of the time, and there’s a temptation on occasion to ignore my kids in favor of work. But then I remember how 2 becomes 4 and 4 becomes 8 and 8 becomes 11 and 12 and 13 and, soon enough, they’ll be in college. So I try and be around as much as possible, and write when they’re in bed. I like to think that being with them so often (the wife and I split almost all duties down the middle) helps the time pass just a wee bit slower.
What’s the hardest part about being a dad?
The heartbreak. I mean that. I want my kids to be children forever, but it can’t happen. Within the past year or so my daughter asked that I not tuck her in. We used to sit in her bed and chat before the light goes off. Now she prefers to read in quiet. That sort of thing crushes me, though I understand it’s her becoming independent.
What does quality time with your kids (daughter/son) away from “work” look like?
It takes a million different forms. I drive my kids to school—so those conversations are gold. As a family, we love the local farmers market, so walking around, having something to drink, listening to music while picking through corn. I love movie nights, I love walks along the beach, I love playing gin rummy with my son, I love doing makeup with my daughter.
Biggest word of advice you can give to first time dads in the business?
Everyone says their first priority is family, but few live that. Live that.
What is your most embarrassing public moment thus far as a parent?
This was more infuriating than embarrassing, but when my daughter was young I was outside a Costco and she needed her diaper changed. A woman saw me taking out a diaper and preparing to take her to a changing stations and she said, “Do you need me to do that for you?” Um, what? By that point I’d changed a solid 500 diapers; I did many a late-night feeding. I was furious. Just because someone is a dad doesn’t mean he isn’t more than capable.
What are some helpful tips to balancing Dad time and work time during the season?
Well, I don’t travel covering a sport. My season would be a tight book deadline. The keys are:
A. Force yourself to step away from the laptop/phone.
B. Tell your kids to pull up a chair and do homework at the same table where you’re working. It’s together time.
C. Let your kids in on stuff. Talk to them about issues at work; ask their advice; seek their thoughts.
D. Get by on less sleep. If working late into the night means more time with the kids, suck it up.
How are you like your Dad?
This is random, but when my brother David and I were kids, my dad would take us to a diner and we’d make castles out of the sugar packets on the table. Now, with my kids, we’re always making castles from sugar packets. I think of Dad every time. He was a great father. Still is.
Bonus Question: Your ideal coffee shop writing space looks like…
Amazing palm tree-lined patio w plenty of outlets, clean bathroom, big tables, but not too high, unlimited refills, friendly staff, big windows, 90s hiphop on a loop, no cell phone talking rule, mocha smell, good eats menu, and a rustic touch..
About Jeff Pearlman
Jeff Pearlman is a New York Times best-selling author of seven books. “Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre,” is his latest release and is available now. Pearlman is a former Sports Illustrated senior writer, a former ESPN.com columnist and a former staff writer for Newsday and The (Nashville) Tennessean. Pearlman contributes regularly to various outlets, ranging from Bleacher Report to the Wall Street Journal to Sports Illustrated to CNN.com. You can find out more about Jeff Pearlman and his writings at his website jeffpearlman.com and Twitter: @jeffpearlman