The moments we miss; when family doesn’t come first

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By Brandon Priddy

I made a poor life decision on Saturday night. One that will resonate with me for years to come with consequences I’m just now beginning to fully appreciate. I write this not for myself, but as a service to you, my fellow sports fans. I write this so you won’t make the same mistake I did. Robert Frost once wrote that he took the road less traveled and that made all the difference.

Let this be your difference. Don’t take my road.  

To set the stage it was around 5:30 Saturday evening. I was spending the Thanksgiving weekend with my wife and two daughters along with my in-laws at their cabin outside of Pigeon Forge. We had been talking with the kids about a trip to Dollywood to during the days leading up and they were very excited. Like really excited. As in my 5 year old had taken to stealing my iPad and watching YouTube videos of the Mystery Mine, Blazing Fury and Wild Eagle for the past week and then insisting she wanted to ride all of them. Did I mention she’s 5? Then she got her sister, a year her junior, hooked on the very same thing, I would give anything for something to excite me the way a prospective trip to Dollywood excited my children. Kids are amazing creatures. I mean, it’s Dollywood. But I digress.

Unfortunately our laziness got the better of us (what with the fireplace and comfy quarters, it’s intoxicatingly relaxing up there) and Friday, the day we’d originally discussed for the trip, came and went. Then Saturday around noon I settled in for a spirited Ohio State/Michigan game and foolishly ceded all decision making to those around me. Before I knew it we were entering the third quarter of the Iron Bowl and the my wife was announcing that the family would be heading up to The Wood for a few quick rides and some nighttime Christmas lights (it’s only about 20 minutes away). There were other activities already planned for Sunday, so it was now or never.

It was here that I erred and fell into the sentimental trap that has befallen so many before me. I pride myself on being a pretty good dad and a more than adequate husband. I do the dishes, I sometimes fold the laundry and always put my kids first. I’m not really an Auburn or Alabama fan, so putting my wants aside and sparing my wife double duty seemed like the right thing to do…….but I was torn.

I took a moment and considered things. I thought of my kids and their anticipation of the trip. I thought of how excited they would be as the Blazing Fury lumbered through dark corridors and down quick hills and how as DAD it was my job to be there. More than anything I thought of how not so long ago I could hold my children in the crook of one arm and how not so long from now I won’t be able to get the time of day from them. How childhood is short and that magic is fleeting and everyone tells me one day I’ll look back and just wish for more of that time.

So I took one look at Nick Saban’s ever-present scowl and Gus Malzahn’s nerdish glasses and decided to follow the advice of Dr. James Dobson and put Family First. Besides, I’d seen this Alabama soul-less death march before. Auburn had ridden their electric crowd and obscene good fortune about as far as those things can take you. It was just a matter of time before Alabama did what Alabama does and ground those hopes into so much dust and sand. That it had taken this long was the true miracle. The Process would win. The Process always wins.

I grabbed my youngest in my arms and buoyed by the adoring gazes of the three things that mean the most to me in the world, I got up and left. God help me I turned off the 2013 Iron Bowl with about 8 minutes left in the third quarter.

Perhaps childhood is fleeting and perhaps I’ll look back one day and wonder where it all went. Perhaps. You know what isn’t fleeting? A search for a parking spot at a theme park. You know what isn’t gone in the blink of an eye? The wait in line for temporary passes because your brother-in-law unknowingly drove off with your season passes the day before.

Maybe if I had decided to send my family along and remain on that couch the decision would have weighed on me. You know what actually DID weigh on me? As in actual weight resulting from gravity’s pull and not a little case of the sadz? My 50 pound 4 year old who insisted she was cold and tired and that I carry her on my shoulders. That’s a lot of weight. Next time you’re in Home Depot, go grab a 50 pound bag of cement and throw it on your shoulders. Then walk around the store with it for 30 minutes and try to check your phone for game updates and text messages. All I know is I was 5′-11″ when I walked into that park and now I doubt I could even look Nick Saban level in the eye.

On the tram ride in, my Twitter feed revealed the Tide had predictably scored (albeit in unpredictable 99 yard fashion) and was poised to put the familiar boot to the throat – just as I had known they would. So I had missed a decent game, but nothing special. Then I got a text message. Then another. Miraculously, Auburn had scored and was about to force overtime. Again, clearly a great game but far, far from “remember where you where when ___ happened” territory.

Then my Twitter feed went nuclear as I had never seen it go nuclear before. It was like God had hit some massive ‘caps lock’ button in the sky and robbed every human alive from the ability to spell or really even put together a discernible thought.





You know where I was when Auburn upset Alabama in the Greatest Ending To A College Football Game Of All Time? Standing on a sidewalk somewhere between Thunderhead and The Mystery Mine explaining to a 5 year old that she was 3 inches too short for a ride that will eventually teach her real life ain’t no YouTube video. While the entire country was sharing a transcendent moment, I was out in the cold. Literally.

Yes I know those are times with my kids I’ll cherish forever. I know because I’ve got a million of them and I love them all (memories, not kids). Did you know I’ve been to Dollywood with the kids probably 6 times total so far? Never missed a trip – and there will be plenty more. Did you also know that there have been only 4 field goals returned for touchdowns in the 144 year history of college football? And only once has a game ended on one of those plays? Four is less than six but hey, I’ll just wait around 36 years for the next one.

I’ll just say this – I  can all but guarantee you that I won’t be on my deathbed fondly remembering the time I carried my crying daughters through a theme park in 30 degree temperatures. But there’s a very good chance the nurses in the next room will still be talking about Chris Davis’ 109 yard touchdown return.

Here’s my parting advice. Life moves fast and the moments are fleeting; you never know what you’re going to miss. So next time your family tells you to turn off that game because it’s time to go… ask them to please shut the door on the way out and maybe grab you a beer while they’re up.

You’re welcome.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.