To everything there is a season
I was sad when football ended. The first week after our last game, I felt empty. We had three extra hours on Tuesday and Thursday to…not get ready for football, not play football, and not talk about football on the way home from football. I don’t remember what we did.
Basketball is underway, we’re already talking about baseball, and my oldest will be trying winter lacrosse this year. So there are other sports, and other seasons to look forward to. My older two currently want to be MLB players when they grow up so we actually don’t put away the baseball gear at all. It sits on our porch year round (and this winter, I’ll have to make sure the gloves don’t spend the season in the back yard buried in snow).
But there’s something about football. It’s not just something special for the kids, but also special for the parents and fans. The boys have a brotherhood like I have yet not seen in other sports. My kids have learned a new language, which I don’t understand: “wishbone 33-blast,” “jumbo wing right 38 power sweep,” and the like pepper the conversations I hear in the back of the car on the way to and from practice.
Both of my older boys became much more disciplined (doing all they could to be on time for practice, making sure their uniforms made it to the laundry, studying the playbook) and “manly” (able to endure a two hour practice with full pads in 90-degree heat, needing to use antiperspirant).
I remembered the day when we picked up our gear and the boys had no idea how to attach their chin straps, and I had no clue where to put all their pads – in the pants or the girdle. What’s a girdle? I wondered to myself, but found out soon enough at the sporting goods store. I asked a lot of questions. Veteran football parents told me how to wash the equipment (or not), and what kind of extra accessories we might need (spare mouthguards, personal chinstraps, OxyClean and Febreze). By the end of the season, we could get those pads stuffed in under ten minutes. No one wanted my help with their chest pads, shirt, or anything at all (in public anyway). No one wanted me to even get out of the car at practice anymore, as long as I was waiting at the shed at 7:30. Sometimes I stayed at the whole practice and watched from a distnce; and sometimes my youngest and I would go have special time together, shopping or eating dinner by ourselves.
There were times when kids got hurt. Time stood still as everyone took a knee. The field and the fans became quiet except for the continuous buzz of the sibling club who shared their snacks, stuffed animals, and Silly Bandz as they did at every game. We knew that the bond the kids had with each other enabled them to feel the same pain that their teammate did, just as the bond we parents shared had us standing in the shoes of the mom and dad as they flanked the paramedics caring for their sons.
Ultimately the boys would be fine: I imagined when the news reached us, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. Boys who were injured still came to the games even when they couldn’t play; still very much a part of the team.
We had final get togethers at the coaches’ houses. The kids all ran around playing football. The parents stood around a bonfire (slightly reminiscent of football afterparties when I was in high school) and talked about the season. When it was time to go, we bid each other farewell with “see you tomorrow at the basketball jamboree,” or “see you at baseball.”
To everything there is a season. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV