Child's Play

Photographs By Hiroyuki Ito

The sweet taste of soccer victory! The thrill of watching the Liberty at the Garden! The summer of '99 finds women in sports reaching a new zenith of popularity and prowess. We took to the streets and parks of New York and noticed a wonderful phenomenon: daddies enjoying sports with their toddler daughters, in a fashion until recently reserved for fathers and small sons. Wanna come out and play?

imageJose Romero and Monica
Age: 39 and 3
Resides:West Side
Occupation:Restaurant worker

Were you an athlete?Yeah. Soccer and bike riding. But I used to be a big soccer player. I'm from Colombia. Soccer's big there.

Do you have a sister?Yes.

Did your father play sports with her? My father didn't play with me or my sister. He was too busy working.

Is playing with daughters a new thing?I think so.

Do you expect her to be an athlete?Yeah. I really want her to be. I think basketball, she could be good at. Maybe soccer, I don't know. But now she is too young. So we will see. It's necessary for the kids to play with their father. Right now, she likes fishing a lot. We were supposed to go today, but the weather was bad. She catches a lot of fish.

imageBen Neill and Kady
Age: I don't want to say. Kady: 4

Were you an athlete?I played tennis in high school, some junior high football.

Did your father play sports with you? Yeah. When I was younger. But he didn't have all that much time.

Is playing with daughters a new thing? There are a lot more working mothers now. And fathers are taking more responsibility. I don't know if the sports part is new. I guess in our family, I'm more inclined toward athletics. It's just a natural thing for me to play sports with my daughter. It's instinctive.

Do you expect her to be an athlete?I don't expect her to be anything but herself. But I would hope, if anything, that she takes up tennis, so I can have someone to play with.

imageDavid Tolley and Elizabeth
Age: 45 and 4
Resides:Upper West Side
Occupation:Financial services

Were you an athlete?Yes. I played high school basketball. I played on a football team that never lost when I played.

Did your father play sports with you? Some. He was too busy. He was more into hunting and fishing.

Is playing with daughters a new thing? Yes. Compared to my generation. Roles of men and women have changed greatly. My wife and I are equal breadwinners in the family.

Do you expect her to be an athlete?I try to encourage her mostly for motor coordination. We play catch, things like that. We go to a lot of baseball games. So far, she's gone to about 20 to 25 baseball games. She knows the rules and what's going on.

imageKevin Doherty and Bridget
Age: 40 and 4

Were you an athlete?Yeah. Baseball in high school. Some soccer in college.

Do you have a sister?Yeah, two.

Did your father play sports with them? My father didn't really play sports with them. One of my sisters did swimming competitively and gymnastics. Things that my dad wouldn't have been able to instill in them.

Is playing with daughters a new thing?There's more opportunity for girls, not necessarily a new thing.

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