How to keep your kids happy while you watch football

Amazon: My Football BookBill figured out how to keep his daughter entertained (but engaged) while he watched the game:

My son Griffin (2) is crazy about football – almost every shirt he owns has a football on it – but my daughter Erin (4) never showed much interest in sports and would sometimes complain that she wanted to watch "her" shows while Daddy was watching a game.

One day after a penalty on the field I said, "Erin, did you see that zebra?" The two of them looked at the TV and screamed excitedly when the official trotted onto the screen in his black-and-white striped shirt. Now every time I watch a game, they happily go on "zebra watch".

I came up with it at the beginning of the pro football season, but this approach should work for most sports; baseball and soccer are the only exceptions I can think of.

I, too, watched a lot of TV football and tennis with my Dad when I was a kid. I'm not a sports fan (never was) but I still look back on those times with a lot of warmth.

More: Hacks for sports-loving (or -playing) families


  1. Daddy Dre says

    Anytime I need (need!) to watch a soccer game, I put a DVD or some other kid video on my laptop and my son sits happily next to me, each of use engrossed in our own screen.

  2. The Blue Pamphlet says

    I do the same with the occasional NASCAR race I watch. Not only do I know they’re 4-5 hour marathons (excellent time to get some laundry done), my son and I talk about colors, numbers, and why it’s not cool to crash a real car.

  3. Mike says

    Nachos. It’s all about the nachos. I make a nice giant tray of them and that holds us over nibbling happily for most of the game.

  4. Sandy says

    I watched a lot of tennis with my dad growing up and of course, cricket (grew up in India). My son is 3 yo and I just got him to watch the US Open–told him to keep an eye on the yellow ball. Got him a racket after the first few days and he loved it. When the Wimbledon was on, he did not quite have the patience to sit still. Glad he does now.