I am Bert Belt’s daughter. 20 years after his death I still miss him and think of him often, as I do on this Father’s Day. My dad instilled in me a love of sports. Whether he was participating in them (he loved golf, running, and skiing) or watching them (his favorite team was the Iowa Hawkeyes), my dad valued athletics. I remember that on most Sunday mornings when we were growing up he would go out for a 12-mile run. The funny thing is, I don’t ever remember him running any other day of the week…just that one weekend run. That was sort of how he was. I recall one morning when I was about 10, he announced (after he had been at a party the night before) that he and his friend were going to run the upcoming Chicago Marathon. This was way before running marathons became a popular thing to do. Whether it was pure spontenaity or the influence of certain beverages at the party, it was a little insane. He didn’t have much time to think about a training regimen since it was a matter of days before the race, not weeks or months!
Seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were untrained and ill prepared, they ran the marathon, and finished it. That night, with his feet in a bowl of ice, my dad sat on the big Lazyboy in our family room cursing himself…with a big grin on his face. That was my dad, a little unpredictable, but always up for a gutsy thing. Truth be told, I think my dad always wanted a boy. However three daughters didn’t stop him from teaching plays and throwing passes to us in the back yard.
With my father’s influence, I always thought of myself as an athlete. That is the way he raised us. He was tough, and he expected us to be tough too. I wish that he could see my kids in their sporting endeavors now…I know he would enjoy being a part of it all. And he would be proud of them. Not so much for any successes they might have, but for their effort. That is what I remember him respecting. It was the sweat, the hard work, and sometimes the agony (even of defeat) that impressed my father.
As a parent, I hope to pass on this same appreciation for hard work that he passed to me. And I don’t think this respect for effort, sweat and guts is such a bad thing to pass along these days. Unfortunately, today’s fathers don’t always receive the respect that most of them deserve. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal compared fathers in sitcoms today to their counterparts in the past. In “A New Generation of TV Wimps” (June 10, 2011), it stated that fathers are often seen as bumbling “yes-men” who often won’t stand up for themselves, and tend to be the brunt of many of the jokes. The article actually called it “the wussification” of fathers (or men in general). I’m sure my dad wouldn’t have thought much of the new shows.
Today I celebrate and honor the important vocation of fatherhood. I especially remember my father, and I thank him for his toughness, for his love of sports, and for his passion for athletic pursuit. While I probably will not ever enter a marathon like he did… on a whim – without some training, I credit him for the fact that I ever entered one at all.
To dads everywhere, Happy Father’s Day!
Does anyone else credit their dad for their love of sports or athletic endeavors?