September 20, 2012
I've been learning things I didn't know before: like what it means to be "on the line." That's right, I didn't really know what a linesman was, because as you've probably guessed by now, I've never been a big fan of the sport. (However, I did have a concept of a "first down," so I'm not too hopeless.)
I think I only went to a game once my first two years Del Valle High (before it closed), and that's because I agreed to go on a date with a guy who liked using games as a setting for foreplay. I did not attend one game while at Acalanes High, where I transferred after Del Valle closed. But in general, my artsy/bohemian/writer/drama friends and I looked down at football players as dumb jocks.
Again, it was to please a man -- a frat boy, no less -- that I attended one football game the entire four years I was at Northwestern University. Back then I wasn't missing much in terms of great football. Northwestern's poor performance on the football field was legendary.
I actually wore my Big 10 college's football incompetence as a badge of honor. Especially when I'd be at one of my parents' Christmas parties. One of their jocular friends -- one of those prosperous good citizens who remind you of the Plastics Guy from The Graduate -- would invariably come up to me and jokingly say, "How about that Northwestern football team, Martha?" I'd roll my eyes and say in a snarky undergraduate way: "That's why I chose Northwestern!" I could have gone on about how I just despised the bust-heads nature of football and the whole loud fan culture around it.
When I launched this blog, I was Soccer Mom. My son did play soccer, but I mostly was being cheeky in choosing that nom de plume, because I consider myself the farthest thing from the stereotypical soccer mom
Now I'm football mom -- for the 2012 season at least, which ends in early November.What a difference a couple decades makes, plus having a son with a mind all his own. And his tall, well-built 14-teetering-on-manhood body says, I want to play football. Supposedly, he wants to take other guys down, knock them off their feet, terrify them back to their own end zone, deliver heavy body blows. He wants to metaphorically, at least, bust heads.
And I'm proud of him. Maybe it's because he's being, in his own way, a rebel -- against his mother's own youthful tastes and narrow-mindedness. I'm proud because he made the choice and he's been dedicated, always showing up to practice on time and, as his coach says, stepping up and doing what's needed and expected of him.
I was happy that he signed up for some activity related to school -- and didn't care that it was football. I thought it was good he'd have an activity and a group to belong to as he entered the new, sometimes scary terain of high school. Some parents asked if I was worried, especially in light of heightened concerns about the risk of head injuries.
Yes, I've read many of the stories, but I wasn't going to stop my son from playing, because he really wanted to do it. I have a strong belief that kids need to do things they love in high school -- especially if they're not big on academics. Their passion for some activity will keep them engaged, and perhaps motivate them to care about doing their best in school. As for the safety issue, I have to trust that the coaches are teaching the guys about staying safe.
I started to feel that this football experiment is a good thing when he came home from a mid-day practice on one of those triple-digit-hot August days and didn't complain about the boot-camp-like conditioning the coaches put him and his teammates through. He gladly accepted water, flopped on the couch and then proceeded to talk about what a good practice it was.
Last Thursday, I was at the Battle of the Creek -- Las Lomas versus Northgate. Alas, the varsity Knights lost to the Broncos, but the freshman Knights won 28-8. My son is getting to play more, and he's excited about that.
Later this afternoon my son's team plays against Alhambra.
As I write this, the morning air outside is crisp. Fall is a two days away. I expect that as the sun goes down behind the stadium at Alhambra High School, the air will become cool, and I'll be enjoying a very American autumn tradition: football. Thursday sunset football has become the highlight of my week.
I hope the Knights win, or at least play well, and maybe by the end of this game, I'll understand a new football concept. "Eligible receiver" anyone?
Posted by Martha Ross at 10:01 AM