Letting Go Team Go

Football season is underway! I totally lucked out for a third year because Lexi is cheering for Jackson’s team so I only need to endure enjoy one game a week. They had their first game this Saturday. It was only a practice game and the boys ended up tying 6-6.

As you know, I’m an absolute football EXPERT as shown by this blog post full of my extensive knowledge HERESo, after the game, since I’m a wonderfully supportive mom, I asked Jackson, “Why were you hitting like a girl?”

“What do you mean?” he asked, taken aback.

“Well, when you played before, you always tackled the guy to the ground.  But today, it looked like you were playfully pushing his shoulders away as if to say, “Oh stop it, you big silly!  Get out of here.”

“I played a different position before.  You can’t tackle a guy to the ground if he doesn’t have the ball, Mom,” Jackson explained.

“Are you sure?” I asked (as if I had a clue).  “You don’t hesitate to beat on your brothers and sisters.  Now we’re telling you it’s okay to hit these guys.  We’re encouraging you to hit them.  Hard.”

“Mom, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.  Sometimes I’m just supposed to hit one guy and move on to another one.”

“For real?  I thought the goal of the game was for everyone to knock the other guy down and stomp on him.”

Jackson sighed.  And blinked.  And shook his head. Which can be translated to – Why do I bother talking to you, Mom? You’re an idiot.

Apparently I’m not quite the football expert I thought I was.  I’d forget about football and watch the cheerleaders instead, but it’s a toss-up between watching my son get stomped on and watching my daughter fly through the air.  They’re both equally nerve-racking.  The day before Jackson’s game, I got an email from my church’s prayer chain asking for prayers for someone’s nephew who’d been hurt at football practice and was now in the ICU with a lacerated spleen.  A couple years ago, one of Austin’s friends was injured in a football game and (this may not be the technical, medical term) his kidney exploded.  It was bad.

I try not to think about those things.  Of course your kid can get hurt while participating in sports.  You take that chance when you let them play.  I know some parents who won’t let their children play certain sports because “they’re too dangerous.” Although I can understand this (no one wants to see their child hurt), I’ve never been that parent and this is why – you can get hurt anywhere, at any time, doing anything.

Case in point – My sister and her family were camping this weekend.  They were awakened late at night when a drunk driver plowed over a tent and crushed a man’s legs narrowly missing his wife and little boy, then he careened toward the tents in which my sister and her family and friends were sleeping.  My sister and her family weren’t playing football; they were doing nothing more than sleeping.  You can get hurt anywhere. 

Sure, you can keep your child in a bubble in an effort to protect him, but why would you do that?  Haven’t you ever seen Seinfeld?  You keep your child in a protective bubble and the next thing you know he’s arguing about Moors and Moops with strangers.

By participating in sports, my kids are learning the benefit of hard work and practice. You don’t get really good at anything without putting in the hours first. They understand that they need to show up for all practices and put forth 100% effort if they want to do their best.

They’re learning the definition of teamwork firsthand. My daughter has to rely on the girls who are the base to hold her, support her, and catch her as she falls. My son has to rely on the quarterback to throw the ball to him. He has to depend on every member of the team to be where they’re supposed to be, and to do what they’re supposed to do. Likewise, they know that they need to be in place, doing their jobs because their teams are counting on them as well.

They’re also learning how to manage their time. They need to complete their homework right after school on days they have practice. They know the importance of keeping their grades up so they’re eligible to play.

By participating in sports, kids learn sportsmanship. They learn how to win with grace and lose with dignity. They understand the importance of playing hard and they take competition seriously, yet they know, in the end, that it’s just a game. They follow the rules for everyone’s safety and enjoyment and when all is said and done, win or lose, they have fun playing and competing.

So, I let my kids play sports.  And I go to all the practices and games.  And I cheer.  And I take pictures.  And I attempt to understand the rules.  And I sometimes look the other way when my son is getting tackled or my daughter is flying because, in my opinion, the rewards are worth the risks.

  • See Mom . . . 1 of 10
    See Mom . . .
    This is me. I'm going after the guy on the left.
  • Then . . . 2 of 10
    Then . . .
    I slowed him down by grabbing his chest, not tackling him.
  • Then . . . 3 of 10
    Then . . .
    I moved on to the guy on the right and stopped him.
  • Meanwhile . . . 4 of 10
    Meanwhile . . .
    Another guy moved in to grab the first guy.
  • See how that works? 5 of 10
    See how that works?
    There are plays and plans and everyone has a place to be. It's not just a bunch of guys running around slamming into each other. Understand, Mom?
  • Lex 6 of 10
    After my son's confusing tutorial, I moved on to watching the cheerleaders.
  • Be careful! 7 of 10
    Be careful!
    Oh my gosh she's up high. Why does she always have to be the one on top?
  • Flyer 8 of 10
    And then the part that makes me cringe - when they boost her up and let her fall.
  • Catch her! 9 of 10
    Catch her!
    Catch her! Catch her! Catch her! Catch her! Catch her! Catch her! Catch her!
  • It’s really a toss-up 10 of 10
    It's really a toss-up
    Watching my daughter fly or watching my son under a pile of six other guys. I don't know which one is more nerve-racking.

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