We’re Football People Now (A Parent’s Journey)

The fans of the South Eastern Conference take their college بت فیدو بدون فیلتر very seriously. Year in and year out they lead the country, dominating overall attendance records. In 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 the conference drew more than 5.5 million fans at its home games; a national record for a conference. Football Fanatics, you bet, and they wear the badge proudly.

I on the other hand reside at the other end of this spectrum. My parents were not sports people and it simply was not part of our family structure. I would half-heartedly follow our local sports teams but only if it was convenient. If the game was on and I happened to be sitting in front of the television then great, or if there was a radio handy I might tune in. Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned the journey on which I would embark with my own child.

Like most baby-boom-era parents my wife Stacy and I were determined to expose our children to everything we could from sports to music to dance to theatre to whatever. Following the generational trend, we wanted to afford our kids those things that we simply did not have available to us as children. It is amazing how much has changed over the course of only a few decades. What really accentuated this point was one Christmas when Santa brought a Game-Boy for Willy, my eldest of three; while he was sitting there on the floor playing Ninja Turtles he looked up at me and asked if I played Game-Boy when I was little? That simple, innocent question tells the whole tale. Game-Boy – PS2 – Xbox 360 – Wii, heck, all I had access to was Pong which came onto the scene when I was about eleven years old; my cousin had one so the only time I was able to play it was when I went to visit him. I try to explain to my children that the first time I had access to a computer was in college. We had to sign up for computer time which often was in the wee hours of the morning. They look at me, while texting a message to their friend, as if I am speaking a foreign language. Even our vocabulary has changed; is texting a proper word?

Growing up in the inner city during the late sixties – early seventies the only organized sporting activities available to me were baseball, basketball and football. Tennis and golf were primarily for those belonging to a country club, hockey and soccer simply did not exist and opportunities for swimming, track, wrestling and volleyball were not available until high school. Today children have instant access to the world and exposure to almost anything; baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming, scouting, piano, you name it. I told my children early on that they could participate in anything except football and boxing. My wife and I were determined that our children participate in something; what they chose was for the most part up to them. The risk of chronic and even severe injury from football is just too high and boxing is just plain lunacy. Had Extreme Fighting existing during that time it would have been prohibited as well. Everything else was fair game.

Jump ahead about ten years. Alex, my middle child, came home from school one day and told me that he had joined the football team, catching me off-guard and momentarily speechless. He knew the rules, football was off limits. ‘Really, what position?’ I asked. I’m going to kick, he explained, assuring me that it is the safest position on the roster; kickers never get hurt. I then asked how this came about. Alex’s gym class was outside on the football field where he and a few of his buddies, who were already on the team, were goofing around kicking field goals. As it turns out Alex was popping them through the uprights, with ease, from thirty five yards out so his buddies suggested he try out for the team; the coach obviously liked what he saw and Alex became the starting varsity kicker his senior year.

The most ironic part of this journey is that prior to Alex joining the football team I had never attended a high school football game as an adult and attended only a handful as a student. Perhaps if I had friends on the football team when I was in high school or dated a cheerleader the Friday night games would have drawn my interest.

For all practical purposes high school football was a new experience for me so naturally I had no idea what to expect. I figured that my family and I would attend the games, watch our son kick a few balls and enjoy an evening out. My wife on the other hand jumped in with both feet and did not look back. From the very first game Stacy looked and acted like a veteran football mom. She wore the traditional red, white and black scarf displaying the school colors along with the big button proudly pinned to her chest showing off a photograph of her son in his football uniform. Number fifteen, that’s MY child. The photo-button is the official badge of honor for all of the mothers with children who are members of the team, the various cheerleading squads and the marching band. It truly is a beautiful sight to look into the stands and see a wall of moms sporting big photo-buttons accented with red, white and black scarves. Simply put, football is addictive.

There is so much emotional purity involved at this level that you cannot help but get caught up in all the excitement. I think the reason for this is that the fans are more vested than at the college or professional level; the high school setting is much more intimate. Parents are obviously going to cheer for their children regardless of level or venue, but the true difference rests with the kids in the stands. They are rooting for friends that they grew up with, friends whose birthday parties they attended and sofas they slept on. These are the same kids who were lab partners in science class and were teammates on the recreational soccer team. The kids on the field and the kids in the stands have literally known each other all their lives. This depth of connection on such a wide scale simply cannot occur at the college or professional level. The kids being raised within the same community is what makes high school sports so special and unique.

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