Because my sons played football – that’s it, that’s why I love football. If they had been snake charmers or cheerleaders, I would love snake charming and cheerleading, and would have traveled to all of their games, or meets, or whatever competitive event those activities hold. My one son started playing in rec league, and both played high school football, at a time when you could get away with yelling “hit somebody” (more on yelling later) and concussion conversations were only beginning to surface. And thank God, as I was/am a risk taking mom and while I can’t dispute the head injury statistics, I just hate the save-the-children-from-everything-campaigns (Ironically, my older son suffered a serious concussion when he slipped on ice—and he managed to remain intact and become a doctor). One child had ability and one had attitude, but neither had both. That being said, they were decent players, and devotees of the game.
High school football is awesome, a competitive and combative sub-culture, the local boys and their crazed parents, loaded with rally buttons and beer and pom-poms and cow bells and coins in empty, gallon milk jugs—my least favorite noisemaker of all. And playing under the lights is so high school iconic, an experience that tv dramas or game highlights never can capture, and experience that fires up all of the senses. The steam of hot dogs, the smell of a joint from under the bleachers, fathers yelling at coaches, mothers yelling at the kids with the joint, the wonderful slap slap of pads on pads, hot breath glistening on cold air and no one is breathing harder than you or your son. You can stand on the sidelines (or at least you could when I was a fan), you could call your child and your child’s friends by name, encourage them, praise them, give ’em hell when they miss a tackle. And how I could yell. One time I was barking something to my son, the team, the quarterback, it doesn’t matter. I could hear the reverberation of my own voice and turned to apologize to the lady sitting behind me for my crazy volume. She re-assuredly patted me on the shoulder and said, “It’s a gift, honey, a gift.” My kinda’ football mom.
One child picked his college because of the football division and continues to go to games with his alumni pigskin pals. I don’t like college ball as much as the NFL, and I really don’t know as much about the game as I make out—I understand little about penalties and play calls, and managing the clock is a total mystery to me. But I watch highlights, I listen to the commentators predictions and analysis, their glory day stories, I know players and have my favorites (I tried to embrace Joe Flacco as my favorite quarterback, but secretly, it was always Aaron Rodgers). Frankly, I don’t care that much anymore—except that it’s a tie to my boys that I absolutely will not sever. It keeps me relevant, keeps me connected, it keeps me cool. Like when I used to yell “hit somebody” from the sidelines.
photo credit: cbssports