I don’t know anything about football. I don’t understand football, and I don’t want to learn about football. I don’t like football. However! I go to a lot of football games because 15 plays football and I find ways to entertain myself in the midst of my bebaffling. (I made that word up. I might make up a whole new language at the next game. It’s something to do!)
15’s in there somewhere.
They all look alike once they put on a helmet. I think that’s him, in the middle! He’s number 60. But there’s also a number 80 and I’m not sure if that says 60 or 80.
It’s hard to follow the numbers on their uniforms. They keep moving around.
15 is in 10th grade and he’s some kind of defensive lineman. I only know that because he mentioned it yesterday. I’ll forget by tomorrow and have to ask him again. He’s playing on the junior varsity this year, though he also has to suit up and go to the varsity games, too. Just in case. So that’s two football games a week. I don’t go to the away games, though. I went to his middle school away games, but in high school, they travel too far, sometimes more than two hours away, and I have to be home to get Princess around to her volleyball practices and games, plus I can’t afford the gas.
Home games are enough football for me.
Junior varsity games aren’t particularly well attended. That’s the away team stands across the field. The home team stands are slightly better filled as most of the parents attend home games. Varsity games, on the other hand, are a madhouse, absolutely packed stands.
Nothing like Friday night varsity football in a small town. It’s a social event, a dating event, a news event, a political event, and a sporting event combined. (Roane County Raiders, varsity, lost last night, by the way. Exciting game. Controversial refereeing calls. Nearly a riot in the stands. Those refs are lucky they got out alive!!)
But JV…. It’s a parenting event.
If only I could find my boy…… Oh, wait, there he is! On the far left–number 60–pushing somebody. That’s not very nice. I hope they don’t push him back.
All right! He’s coming off the field. I can find him when he’s on the sidelines.
He looks so tired. “Are you okay, sweetie?” He loves it when I talk to him at the game.
He’s always quick to take his helmet off.
Look at that face! I wonder if he has a cramp. “I told you that you should eat your bananas!”
“Do you want me to run to the store and get you a banana right now?”
I think he’s ignoring me.
Princess keeps herself entertained by singlehandedly supporting the concessions stand. She paces herself by eating constantly.
I wonder what the cheerleaders are talking about. I think they don’t understand the game, either. I think they’re talking about the boys. Or their hair.
And there he goes again.
I wonder what the chickens are doing?
Luckily, JV games only play 10-minute quarters. I need to get home to my chickens.
They won! 14 to 12. I just realized that about two minutes before the game was over. I’d forgotten to look at the score the whole time. I was too busy counting down the minutes in the quarters.
The high school football stadium is actually in a very pretty spot.
The coaches always hold a little meeting on the field when the game’s over. I know what they’re saying: “Men, you worked hard. You did a great job. Now it’s time to talk about our feelings……”
Okay, maybe not.
15 actually wanted to quit football a couple of weeks before school started. All his friends from middle school and 8th grade football carried over and played on the 9th grade team at the high school last year. This year, they all quit. 15 found himself on the JV team alone, without his best and oldest friends. He said, “I want to quit football.” I said, “No.” He said, “What do you mean, no?” I said, “You don’t quit something you love just because your friends quit.” He was mad at me when I took him to practice the next day. When I picked him up, I said, “Did you have fun today?” He said, “I hate you.” And he said I hate you in that tone and with that look on his face that really meant, I love you. Because you didn’t let me quit. Because I had a good time today. Because I love football. And he’s gone to practice enthusiastically every day since.
I don’t love football at all, and it was a split second’s temptation to let him quit that day a few weeks ago. Oh how much easier my life would be! Football isn’t a game, it’s a commitment that is almost year-round. And every time I’m waiting at nearly midnight in the high school parking lot for the bus to get back from an away game, I’ll be thinking how I could have been home in bed.
But I won’t be sorry.
If you live around here, see you at the game! I’ll be the one saying, “What just happened?!” sitting next to the girl with two Mountain Dews, three nachos platters, and six candy bars.