Friday, March 12, 2010

The Family That Plays . . .

by D'Ann Mateer

I’ve always heard that “the family that prays together, stays together” and “the family that plays together, stays together.” I believe both are true. We need prayer and play to cement our relationships. But I’ll admit, my husband and I don’t always do “play” well. We’d both prefer to read a book! But over the years we’ve managed to institute a few family rituals that can be classified as “play”.

Because of that, March means one thing in our family—the NCAA college basketball tournament, the official “March Madness.” (I say official because my husband spent a few years with the NCAA as a client defending their copyright of that phrase.)

I didn’t care much about college basketball until I met my husband. He and his college friends would set up three or four in order to watch all the first round games. And if I wanted to be with him, which I did, I watched, too. I learned to recognized Dick Vitale’s unique style in calling the games, labeling an outstanding freshman a “Diaper Dandy” or noting a “PTPer” (Prime Time Player). (Side note: I still love listening to Dick Vitale call a game!)

When our kids were in elementary school, we began letting each person fill out a tournament bracket before hunkering down to watch the games. I’d like to say it’s all in fun, but bragging rights can get serious around our house!

My husband even attended four Final Four weekends, once with me, once with our kids and my parents while I was out of town at a writing conference. We haven’t done that in several years, but we’ve been known to crane our necks to see game scores during Spring Break trips—while resting on the ski slopes or in between rides at Walt Disney World.  When a score goes final, there is always a mad rush to see who surged ahead in the standings. (Note: my boys are quite happy for no Spring Break trip this year, leaving them free to watch all those first round games without interruption!)

Granted, our spring ritual will change a bit this year. My daughter is away at college, so we won’t get to listen to her smack talk in person. But I’m sure she’ll make her voice heard in other ways. And my son’s girlfriend, who has been around for almost a year now, may get initiated into the process as well.

I think our “play” together has made for some fun memories, with more to be made in the coming years. And in the madness that is March (and April and May), it’s good to have yet another common denominator to bring us together as a family.

 Basketball photo courtesy of

So what does your family do to "play" together? Or maybe tell  us how your family survives the madness of the spring months with all the recitals and graduations and weddings and showers and awards days and and and . . .


  1. Well, this 'family' always had lives that revolved around sports schedules. Summers and weekends were no different.
    It hasn't changed much as now that they are adults, they are coaching, teaching and one is an athletic trainer. One of my granddaughter's 20 words or so is ba'ball, because her dad is a coach.

    I can't say I miss driving to games and eating in the car all those years! It was our brand of family togetherness.

    When my older son was interning, he took a trip to the men's NCAAs with the Xavier Musketeers. They stayed and watched all the regional action.

    When you and Wenda talk about your schedules, be assured I can relate!

  2. My family "playing" together has had a lot to do with dance and drama over the years. We also "play" at the beach often and amusement parks. We aren't a big sports family, although my side of the family are all Steeler fans, and we do have occasional Steeler parties with my parents and siblings.

  3. My kids are still four and six. So far our playing together typically consists of the playground, and *groan* Candyland or Battleship. But we also like to cuddle up and read or watch cartoons together.

    I imagine the whole competitive sports thing will arrive one day, but I think I'd rather stay at home...

  4. Yes, Deb, we've had great family times to and from and during games. And one of my sons is looking to get into either coaching or sports management. I'm so glad to know you to know I can survive these years!

    But "playing" does involve so much more than sports! How fun, Dina, that y'all do drama and dance together! And of course beaches and amusement parks are so fun, too. My youngest is a Steeler fan in a house of Cowboy fans. I wish I could send him to one of your parties!

    I have to say, Lisa, I didn't do very well with "play" when my kids were little. But God has been good in making up that time now that they are older. Enjoy the park and the games. They grow up so fast!

  5. Good post and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you on your information.

  6. Hi D'Ann,
    I think family time around play is very important. It's changed over the years from when the kids were little. Now it may take form in exercising together, playing Trouble with Grandma, or watching American Idol with the girls.

  7. Jill,
    I thought you meant there was a game called "Trouble with Grandma". I guess you mean the game trouble and they play with their grandma, eh?

  8. My kids played Parcheesi with their great-grandmother while we were visiting over Christmas, Jill.

  9. March Madness is huge in our home. My husband played Div 1 basketball so he was never really a fan, more a participant, but my sons and I have converted him. I've been a fan for decades, even before I knew him.

    We play together by attending all athletic pursuits of my three sons. Everyone not otherwise engaged goes.

    We also like to spend days together at local parks or taking advantage of special events in our area.

  10. D'Ann,
    I enjoyed reading your post. I made my comment over on the Craftie Ladies blog before I read yours. I chuckled when I read about "family bragging rites." The year my daughter won she picked Arizona because her grandmother had a friend who's son went there. Now my daughter lives in Tucson, where the University of Arizona is located.

  11. I think our families would get along so well, Patricia! If my husband and kids could get over their awe at your hubby playing D1 basketball! I'm so glad a friend of mine with older children encouraged me to take all the family to each kid's event. It really made those great together times. In fact, we still usually text game updates to our daughter who is away at college when her brothers play!

    How funny, Merillee! We are never allowed to forget the winners, are we?

  12. ooh, we do the brackets and all the tournament stuff here. My son and I play "Trouble" (the old board game) every day.

    If I had my way, we would play games all weekend.

    Sigh. They are not that into games.

    Great post!!

  13. I liked the post, D'Ann. In our family, we read a lot together. When we're in the city and head into a restaurant, we all have books with us. I know people stare at us and people have commented about family time but for us, this is our family time. If someone chuckles, everyone else wants to know why and we all laugh about it. Or if an error has been made, the book is passed around as proof. We're not ignoring each other... we're just reading.

    We also play video games together and Wii.

    We used to play a lot of sports but the kids weren't interested and us, well, we'd rather read. Heh.

    Oh - except for golf. We all love golfing and everyone has their own equipment. When Jessie was 6, we had a friend who'd break his clubs when he got mad. He let us have them and we took them into the city pro shop and put new grips on them. They were the perfect size for Jessie. But the golf courses up here are only open from May to Sept, so the rest of the time we read. :)

  14. I know, Patti. My kids aren't really into board games right now, but I still love them!

    I had to laugh, Anita Mae. Truth be told, my husband and I both carry books to the sporting events and usually read until the game/event starts. We would LOVE a family that read together, but the kids just don't. But Hubby and I do crazy things together--like go to bookstores on dates!

  15. Hi D'Ann. This was a great post. So sorry I'm so late to the party. I love games. My family always played a lot of board games. I have great memories of spending the afternoon playing Yahtzee with my grandma while we drank a pot of Constant Comment tea. Then when she'd start to lose, my grandma would pack up the game and I'd be so disappointed. Sports-wise, my family loves baseball, and my son and I try to visit at least one different baseball stadium each year.

  16. D'Ann, interesting post :-) Now I know what you're all talking about when you refer to March Madness - I should have guessed it related to sport :-)


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