Football sign ups were held last week for the high school. Since we're moving, Ben won't be here in the fall, but he went to the meeting anyway. And he came home pretty pumped for the season, wherever that might be.
The sign-ups have me thinking about football. I spent my childhood immersed in football. My older brothers played. My dad whooped and hollered every time the Redskins were on TV. So being the mother of five boys, you'd think I would have had an inkling that football would be in my future. But I didn't. In fact, it wasn't until both Tiger and Matt decided to play one year that I became aware of the philosophy of football.
Putting your kids in football will cost you a little money and a lot of time. But the impact it will have on them is a more than fair trade-off.
Tiger started his sophomore year and had summertime workouts five days a week. They were considered optional until August 1st, but the players who understood the nature of the game attended faithfully. By summer's end they had a week of two-a-days, then practice every day until 6 pm once school started. Matt, 10 at the time, also practiced five nights a week until the start of the season. Football jerseys, I concluded, are earned.
"I have played soccer, baseball and basketball," Tiger announced during his first week of practice, "but I have never seen such teamwork. I didn't even know it existed."
"How was it?" I asked Matt as he exited the field after an early practice.
"Great! I wanted to tackle and be tackled. I got to do both."
"It feels really good to get tackled," adds my now ten-year-old, Cory, reading over my shoulder.
As a mother, I don't get that. But I have concluded that boys can learn a lot about life from football. Sometimes you tackle--hit hard but play fair. Sometimes you get tackled-roll with it and get back up. Stay focused, even when you're losing. Be a team player; push yourself beyond your limits. And when you fumble--because you will fumble--own up to it, then finish the game.
Wherever we move, one of the first things I will do is find the sign-ups for Ben and Cory. Silas, too, as soon as he is old enough. And yes, number ten, if it's a boy, will be encouraged to play at least one year.
Football really is a philosophy. It is a way of thinking that is steered by grit and staying power, a state of mind that champions perseverance and determination. And football coaches speak a language that mothers just don't speak--or shouldn't speak, Tiger said with a chuckle.
I use to have my doubts about those maniac football moms. But being a football mom has convinced me the positives of the sport far outweigh the negatives. Yes, we've had concussions and an assortment of other injuries. But males are designed for that sort of thing, I think.
Football toughens boys up. It knocks the whine right out of them. And the philosophy of football is one that I want my boys to carry with them long after they've left the field.