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All About Football

February 5, 2012 10 comments

This week, it’s all about football. As it should be.

Super Bowl Sunday after all, boasts more than 100-million viewers. And that’s not including those who will for the first time, be able to get the game streamed-live through their computers or on their androids through Verizon’s NFL Mobile app this year. Many viewers will tune in simply to catch the commercials that are selling for upwards of $3.5 million dollars for a 30-second spot. Others will gather in front of their screens or phones, to watch Madonna during half-time, in hopes of witnessing something spectacular. Super Bowl Sunday has something for everyone.

Like baseball and apple-pie, football is a staple of Americana.

My 13-year-old son played on his first football team this past fall and admittedly, I entered the season with a fair amount of trepidation and skepticism. I had my doubts to say the least and even cried foul! on parental interference after witnessing arguments amongst parents and overhearing less-than-encouraging remarks spewed from a dad’s lips to his son’s ears from the stands during a scrimmage. And of course, there were those few pre-game injuries that left “worry” all over me. But it wasn’t about me. It was about letting go and supporting my boy’s passion. Thankfully, the drama was quickly squelched when his three coaches gathered parents and players together and put forth a team “code-of-conduct” that had the distinct air of –if you don’t like it, you can leave– attached to it. This, for the most part, put the ka-bash on future parental outbursts. These men meant business and would stand for nothing less than 100% from everyone. Parents included.

I’m okay with accountability.

As a parent you try to teach your child to take responsibility, be fair, honest and work hard to achieve their goals. For the first two weeks of practice, my boy came home bruised and swollen, dirty and tired. He endured grueling 3-hour practices everyday during the month of August and three days a week from September until the end of November. He was expected to maintain a passing grade average and had to submit school reports to his coaches for review. The integrity of his coaches gave me a new-found appreciation for the game, overall. Along with game-play-strategies, life lessons were taught and there was an in-your-face demand on each player, to show up ready to give it their all, every time.

I am also okay with placing high expectations on kids who are capable.

Knights @ Marist College against White Plains. My boy is center #22.

The emphasis was on the team and while they absolutely protected their quarterback, they also hailed the guys that ran, blocked and threw for him. Maybe this isn’t news to you all but it sure was for me. The best part is that while I had my suspicions that I was liking what this sport was doing for my son’s overall character, the real evidence surfaced in December, when the football league gave him an award for maintaining a 92% or above, average during the season and later that month at his parent/teacher conference. Students participate in their conferences at his school and after his adviser acknowledged his ability to keep-up his schoolwork while playing soccer for the school and the town, as well as Pop Warner football, simultaneously, he asked my son what he felt football did for him this season. I was pretty blown away, not to mention proud when he came out with something that closely resembled this:

When I started to play football I wanted to be the one to get the touchdown but I realized that even if my part in a play is small, if I don’t do my best to execute it, it could effect the whole team and whether or not we win. If we all do our part, we all will benefit from it because we’re a team.

Coming from the boy who proclaimed he would be playing for the NFL long before he every wore his first pair of shoulder pads, I was impressed that the importance of being a team-player was one of the values he came away with. He got it.

He’s since changed his mind and no longer wants to be an NFL player but he will always be a superstar to me.

This year I’ll watch the game with a slightly different eye, one that sees beyond the price of a 30-second commercial spot or the half-time glitz and glamor. I will actually watch the game and the players and hope to see some of the determination and heart that I saw these young boys display week after week last fall, to where their efforts propelled them into the NFC Pop Warner Conference Championship. This year, I’ll look for strategy behind the play and know that it wasn’t achieved without hard work and pain, camaraderie and trust. There’s more to it, I’ve learned, than just running a ball from one end of the field to the other.

Whether you’re a Patriots or a Giants fan, sit back and relax!

Enjoy the game and may the best team win! Whomever that may be…..

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Football: Our New Religion

August 13, 2011 6 comments

It seems that while my “Angel Boy” was residing on the Mother Ship all these past months, he was breathing, eating and sleeping Football: his new religion and he’s been returned to me, an athlete.

Face-masks, girdles and pads, Oh My! You would think I was outfitting a girl with a list like that. The only real tip-off that I was buying equipment for a boy was the “cup” mixed in with the rest of the must-haves. And when you have to buy and wash these things, you start paying a little more attention to what they’re for, especially when they’re designed to protect.

Thank God for these manly items made to keep my boy safe from bodily harm and all of the other revelations that come with the-playing-of-football.

The Knights began their “training” this summer and not only was my boy’s name placed on a football team’s roster for the first time, a few of my prayers have been answered to boot! With over two and a half hours of grueling practice, five days a week and scrimmages on the weekends, this boy is EXHAUSTED! I give thanks to the coach, praise his name and confess: I’m happy to witness the transfer of electronic play over to this all-American, out-door, physical play. Gone are the late nights of video chatting, skype-ing and texting. They’ve been happily replaced with what my boy needs most: SLEEP!

Hallelujah!

She's thinking football! After reading this article, click this pic for some of her Happy Thinking!

Making the team requires lots of my driving time. It’s just too far to drop him off and come back and where-ever I go, the girl goes, making this, for the most part, a 24/7-whole-family-commitment.

It’s worth the sacrifice.

I’m getting a crash course in the Pop Warner Football culture. Sure, I was a football cheerleader in high school but honestly, all we really had to know was the boys’ names. Every once in a while we’d throw out phrases like “hold-that-line” or “Defense!” but it didn’t mean for one second I understood why I was saying that. I even went to a few Bills and Giants games in my day. I love live sports. But let’s face it, all you really have to do is follow the crowd to make it look like you have a clue.

And although, I’ve attended my share of Super Bowl parties and hosted enough Monday Night Football gatherings to know it is a big deal, truth be known, I was mostly there for the food and the company of the other women in the same boat. But now it’s my boy that’s playing in the game and although I don’t have to know what’s going on, I want to know!

Plus, I’m grateful for the little things, like the new respect for personal hygiene for instance, that prior to his “return” seemed to go completely unnoticed by the “Alien Child” that was living in my angel boy’s room for so long. Seriously, he is so dirty and smells so bad after practice, even he can’t stand it! Showers abound – daily!

I’m not worthy.

Even his usual grunting that for so long was the norm response to any type of communication directed his way, has been interrupted by a few real, pleasantries like, “Mom, can you please get me…, drive me…, feed me… and wash my…..?” It’s a blessing to hear his voice again! And although the “good word” now comes on the pages of a playbook, at least he’s studying something!

Don’t get me wrong, the boy is certainly not “the Beav” and I’m no June Cleaver.

I still get the occasional …

“Mom, I told you, don’t talk to me during practice!”

But hey, I’m not expecting miracles!

I am however beginning to believe there is a God and I think SHE plays football.

Consider me converted.

Photo Credit #1-4 ©Karen Szczuka Teich & Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com

Photo Credit #5 Google Docs/TV’s Most Coveted Mom

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