Now that my son is in high school, he’s a dog. A Bulldog, to be precise. He has drug me into his maniacal world of football, kicking and screaming every inch of the way. You see, I really don’t like football. I have to wonder at a game that can’t legally start until the paramedics are on the sidelines. It makes absolutely no sense to me why anyone in their right mind would bash heads over a ball that can’t even roll straight, and then fight over who gets it. It’s not like they only have one. The coaches have a bag full of them! And whatever happened to manners? I’ve worked hard to teach my children patience and concern for their fellow man. In spite of all of this, every Friday night, there I am, at the game, helping to pack the stands, cheering him and his teammates along. Because of this, I’ve learned a lot about football in the last few years.
People ask me what my son plays. Football! He plays football! Huh? What position? The one that smashes! I find out there is offensive and defensive positions. Now I know that the offensive side has the ball, and the defensive side doesn’t. I can remember that because the word offensive starts with an “o” and balls are round (except footballs) and so if you have the ball, you are the one with the “o” so you are offensive. Makes perfectly good sense to me.
It was about the middle of the season, and my son had been working hard. Really hard. He was giving this game everything he had. He memorized plays faster than most guys, lifted weights until he couldn’t move, and was practicing with some serious passion. He was coming home so tired he could barely eat, do his homework, and then crash. Only to get up at 5:30 the next morning to do it all over again. One Thursday after practice, he came home and was proud to tell me, “Mom, Coach says I’m starting tomorrow night!” I made sure I got there early to see my kid play. The beginning of the game arrived, and the coach sends the kids out to the field. Where was my son? Standing on the sidelines! How could this coach promise my son something so important, and then jerk it out from underneath him? Didn’t he have a clue what this meant to him? The first play of the game ended, and as I was silently wondering at the parentage of the coaching staff, my son was allowed to go on the field. I looked at my son, and he was keeping his disappointment hidden. The game went on, and I cheered for him like always. On the way home, very calmly, I asked him why he didn’t start like he had been told. He looked at me and said he had started just like the coach said! Didn’t I see him?
Well, I might not know lots about football, but one thing I do know is everyone has a different number on the back of their jersey. He’s number 65, and I know that 65 was standing on the sidelines when they were kicking the ball! That night, I learned about the different, “Special Teams.” I just thought they were all football players. How was I to know that the start of the game wasn’t the same as the beginning of the game?
Defending the man. Wouldn’t it make sense that we defend whichever of our teammate that has the ball so he can run or pass to get a touchdown? No. It has nothing to do with who has the ball, and more bizarre than that, it’s someone on the opposite team! Why would we defend someone on the opposing team? But we’re not really defending that man, we are trying to keep him from doing what he’s trying to do, which is getting to the ball, or getting to the guy that has the ball. I think it’s more like we are defending the team against that man.
Our 20 yd line. Pretty simple, right? 20 yards to go for a touchdown, right? Well, yes, and no. That doesn’t mean that we have 20 yards to go to a touch down. That means the other team has 20 yards to go to a touchdown. But, wouldn’t that be our 80 yard line???
My heart goes flip flop when I see the team on one knee. I look for my son’s number to see where he is. You see, when someone gets hurt on the field, whether it’s a cramp and they can’t move, or if it’s something really big, everybody else goes down on one knee in a show of support. The coaches tend to the fallen player, and most of the times, in a minute or so, he will get up, sometimes with help, and limp off the field while the crowd cheers. The players all stand up, and the game resumes. The hurt player will normally sit down and recuperate enough to play again at a later time. Sometimes, a player is hurt bad enough to warrant a ride to the sidelines in the blue and gold four-wheeler. (School colors, of course!) If at all possible, though, the kids do not want to go out on a stretcher and into the ambulance. I thought this was due to a, “Football Code of Ethics” or some macho thing that I was not privy to. Nope. Economics, pure and simple. It’s because there will be an $800 bill for that ambulance ride. That short ambulance ride to the hospital just so happens to be one block away from the football field. This is over and above what the hospital charges. Not that any of my son’s teammates has done that. Nobody has busted an arm, gotten a one block, $800 ambulance ride to the hospital, had their jersey cut off of them in the emergency room, and needed surgery after.
I enjoy supporting my son, watching him grow and mature, while at the same time being a part of something that he loves. I do my best to learn something new each week about this game that was so foreign to me not very long ago. I know so much more now than I did when we started this journey, but I still don’t understand much of what goes on. You won’t be seeing me on TV with John Madden discussing the plays. I do this because I’m a mom, and this is what moms do.