Put Me In Coach; I Just Gotta Play


I attended my first high school football banquet this month. My daughter was recognized with the freshman cheerleaders. She and two of the other girls presented a senior player with a scrapbook they made for him. The program was the longest session of back-patting I’ve ever witnessed. In order to work in every conceivable compliment and, of course, not forget to mention any player’s endeavors, it lasted over two hours. Have I already given away the fact I’m not a sports enthusiast?
As I watched 15 to 20 minutes of highlights from this year’s games, my eyes glazed into a fixed stare at the big screen. I can’t help but appreciate the special abilities it takes to run fast, jump far, vault obstacles, perform gymnastics, swim long, or just control your body to consistently swing a golf club (even a dance move). Sorry, football fans, I’m just not geared for the game. It looks to me like football’s foremost requirement is having the grit and determination to allow yourself to butt heads and be pummeled around the field. That kind of courage is not to be taken lightly, but graceful it ain’t. When I want to appreciate physical movement, I guess I expect a certain amount of grace.
I was thankful to sit alone both in the commons area for the film and in the auditorium for the awards. I wouldn’t have been able to intelligently comment to anyone about this year’s (or any other) football. If the sports fans of the school had known what I was thinking part of the time, they would have put it to me, “Lady, you don’t belong here!”
From our cheerleading coach, our football coach, through the lineup of assistant coaches, on down to squad captains, trainers and cheerleaders came teary-eyed praise at season’s end. Emotion was the outstanding feature of the night (and if one coach used that word once, he said it 50 times during the program).
Even the coldest fish wrapped in sports pages couldn’t be immune to the feelings that swelled the auditorium. I hugged a fellow freshman mom when we left. We noted the usual “how fast time flies, how soon they grown up, and what special young adults our kids appear to be.”
More back-patting? Well, why not? Like the scrapbook shows, high school years are for making memories. If I don’t get anything else from football, I see that I should never be content to sit back and watch; I need to get in there and play. Vince Lombardi had it exactly right when he said, “Individual commitment to group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”


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