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The Samurai's Heart by Walt Mussell

The Samurai's Heart

by Walt Mussell

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Divided Loyalties





My kids, like most in the area, are Falcons fans. They’ve watched games with me every week this season and they cheer hard. It hasn’t been the start that we’ve hoped for, but there’s still ten games to go.

However, given that we live in an area where college football is still on top, and given the love of Auburn they inherited from me and a few gazillion other relatives, they follow former Auburn players with a particular gusto. Last year, during Auburn’s run to the national title, my nine-year old began to follow Cam Newton. He lived with every play last season, reveling in the undefeated season. The greatest day of his life was his “low five” exchange with Newton during the Tiger Walk at last year’s Auburn-Georgia game. He touched his hero. Thankfully, he’s washed his hand since then.

When Cam Newton was drafted by the Carolina Panthers, my nine year-old became an instant Panthers fan. He goes on-line to read statistics, watches Panthers games on computer when they aren’t on TV, watches ESPN for highlights, and keeps up with his hero. Besides, the grandparents are Panthers fans, so he felt right at home.

So, this weekend’s match-up between the Panthers and the Falcons provided a challenge. For my 14-year old, it was not an issue. Wearing his Falcons t-shirt, he rooted for his team and rooted for the Auburn players on the other side, too. However, my 9-year old found himself conflicted. How could he cheer for Cam and the Falcons (a team with no Auburn grads)?

When the game ended, he was both happy and upset. He’s nine. He can do that. At the same time, he noted the first two items on his Christmas list.

1) A Cam Newton Carolina Panthers jersey.
2) A copy of Madden 2012, so he could control Cam and make great plays like his hero does.
3) Tickets to a Panthers game so he can watch Cam in person.

I know next week won’t present the problems for my nine-year old that this week did. (My 9-year old cheers for the Lions because of Nick Fairley, but it’s just not Cam.) Also, there’s one more Falcons-Panthers game left this season and more to come in the future, given that the teams are in the same division. I’ll have to see how he handles it.

It’s more fun to watch than the game.

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