Heritage, heroes and a hairdo

As you read this today, I’ll likely be in the icy Pacific Ocean off the coast of Aptos, atop a boogie board. Grinning ear to ear, I’ll be dropping into a smallish wave that will take me all the way to the shore and into the unconditionally giddy embrace of my 8- and 9-year-old daughters.

Unless, of course, they drop into the wave before me — or muscle me off it.

They’ve been wetsuited-up and riding waves since they were 3 and 4, so the possibility of them beating me to the punch very much exists these days.

Emasculating, yes. Especially if the 6-year-old son of one of our neighbors sees it and screeches, “Duuude, you just got ganked by a GIRL!”

I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s what we do as parents: pass the torch. I was a decent surfer in my day, but now I’ve been reduced  — by age, fear and ego — to boogie boards and bodysurfing. No shame in that We all make concessions of some sort as the train of life rolls on.

What matters is that I’m giving my girls the same start I got, some 12 years earlier than my start came at the urging of some high school friends, and I look forward to the day when the students have clearly trumped the teacher.

That day hasn’t come yet, but it’s coming quickly, and because this is Thanksgiving weekend, I’m adding it to my list of the many things for which I feel immense gratitude.

When I look at the local sports landscape, here are a few more things for which I’m thankful:

Jim Harbaugh: Mainly because he’s pulled the Niners from the morass that marked so many of my so-called adult years. You have no idea how simplistic was my adoration for Bill Walsh and George Seifert, and Eddie D, and even Mooch. They won, people had parties. Good times. People are having Niners parties again, and while I no longer drink, I still dig screaming at the tube as my Niners roll.

It doesn’t hurt than Harbaugh is nuts, either. Straight-up nuts. There’s never a dull moment. I like that in a coach.

Bruce Bochy: The most underrated sports personality in the Bay Area. I’ll never forget the day in February 2011 when he asked me into his office at spring training and took me to school. At that point, I’d been covering MLB for 10 years. When I stepped out of his office, I felt like I’d gained 10 more years of knowledge. A great, generous, gracious man.

Harrison Barnes: I’m an unabashed Warriors fan, and this man represents hope. Hope I haven’t felt in nearly 20 years. Finally, I’m not working on blind faith. I can actually see someone worthy of great expectations.

Sharks fans: I’m not a hockey guy. I might never be one. But that doesn’t stop Sharks fans from trying to teach me everything they know about hockey, and that always gets me one step closer to appreciating the magnificence of the game.  

Mark Davis: The hair is enough. Makes me smile every time.       

Mychael Urban has covered Bay Area sports for more than 22 years as a contributor to Comcast SportsNet, CSNBayArea.com, KNBR, MLB.com, ESPN The Magazine and various newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @BigUrbSports. His website is UrbsUnchained.com.


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