I was not an athletic child. Let me rephrase that. I did walk a lot, performed the classic Jane Fonda thigh lifts and butt squeezes and even some old school sit ups on occasion, but I was not a sports player. Not by a long shot. The less “on a team” I could be, the better. A short stint in summer softball cemented it for me. I was in left field just praying the ball didn’t come my way. A pop fly came right at me…I caught it! Thank you, thank you! Then I dropped it….
I couldn’t wait to get my sneakers off and read. Books were more my speed.
My husband on the other hand was a competitor. He took it out to the football field. He played from youth through college, relishing every moment out there. Although that drive has never left him, he soon focused it on skiing, building a business and reviving the sweet old home in which we live. We sometimes watched the Super Bowl. For me it was only for the commercials.
Then boy one was born. He was obsessed with the game from the beginning. I don’t know how it started but there he was, clutching a football at 2…reciting stats and strategies in his elementary years. His room was adorned with photos of his dad playing in college. We all started watching games in the living room loading up on nachos and buffalo wings. He sat in a jersey with his football, shushing us as he intently watched his idols on the field. He connected with the game instinctively. Seeing it through his excited eyes turned me into a sport lover to the highest degree…a football fan.
Football is a passionate game. Akin to gladiator spectacles, it’s also a tough one. Primal and brutal at it’s core, it’s the antithesis of how I spent my childhood days. But soon my sons football games became where I felt happiest. Sunny cool mornings, a hot chai in my hand, I met some of my best friends on the 50 yard line.
I watched my boys grow with the game. Slowly becoming more competitive, the kids they started with 8 and 6 years ago began whittling down to the few who continued to feel the rush, the drive and the passion to play on. As I watch them sweaty and dirty, staring down their opponent or even sitting on the bench, I see boys who may not be the best of friends but who share a stronger bond than arguably in any other sport. Eleven teammates using their physical strength and agility on the field to protect and defend each other, taking hits, taking the ball, taking no prisoners. Some call football barbaric. And it is. Some call it dangerous. And it is. But it’s also a game of determination, resilience and grit and requires players to go in full force, heart and soul. If they don’t work as a team they can’t win. And they want to win.
On the sidelines the focus and the passion are just as strong. I watch with parents I still don’t know the names of, but our kids are on the field together and that makes us family. We congratulate each other on the touchdowns, the tackles. We cringe at the crashes and fumbles. Some yell at the coaches, some at their kids…but we’re all brought together by a love of the game. Celebrating a stunning win. Sharing a stinging defeat.
I don’t know many of the rules. I’m still iffy on positions and learning what “moving the chains” meant was a pivotal moment for me. I do know that I’m not an aggressive person but watching my sons play football makes me fierce with pride and excitement that they’re playing a game they love. And playing hard. It’s a feeling unlike any I ever knew existed.
So, am I living vicariously through my sons athletic pursuits? Absolutely.
While I’m certainly not wishing I were out on the field (ha!), their love for football has changed my life. The game is tough and fearless – traits I never thought myself to be, but as a football mom I’m all that and more. I’m finally part of an athletic team that I can really get into. A strong community that I love being a part of. Finally…a sport has captured my heart.