Football, et alia

The disclaimer first: I’ve never really been a football person (or much of a sports person). Oh, sure I did like the curly fries and the general small-town camaraderie at Chenango Forks High School football games.

But I was raised in the only American family that seems completely uninterested in the Super Bowl. I chose a college which, while it had a football team, has been described as “kind of like a big football school, except the choir is the football team.” And I honestly dread the possibility of having a boy (we don’t know what number 2 is yet, so make no assumptions) because he might grow up to be interested in playing football and Erik and I are not really football parents, as far as we can tell.

So, yes, this article is kind of preaching to the choir when it comes to me.

But, I think there’s a broader application here. The issue around bodies to begin with: girls’ soccer teams where significant numbers of the team have serious knee injuries. Track and cross country (and I DID participate in track, thank you very much, so I am not a total non-athlete) teams where coaches train kids so hard (and wrong) that they wind up unable to run without pain by the time they are 25.

But I also cringe when any extra-curricular activity takes over a teen’s life. It’s partly that teenagers are passionate by nature…if they love something, they LOVE it, and there is often that impulse to immerse oneself in the activity. Eat, breath, and sleep football, soccer, theater, choir, model UN, pick your favorite.

However, what about when adults make it a life of death sort of matter? When a coach tells a kid that “this is your most important season…you can’t miss this practice/camp/etc. for anything”; when the stakes are set so high that it’s impossible to do more than one thing. I mean, seriously, most of us are not going to go pro. And that shouldn’t be what sports, music, drama, whatever are about.

I’m all for commitment to your game, and to some extent, it is absolutely necessary (another athletic foray for me: rowing, in which you literally CANNOT go out and practice unless everyone of your 7 teammates is there…the boat will tip because it’s unbalanced).

But I wish, for the teenagers I know and love, and way far down the road for Zora and #2, that they had a chance, when they were young, and their minds were quick, and their bodies were strong, and their passions were high, to explore many things, but nothing so deeply that it consumes everything they have, and not so many or so much that they never have time to breath.

One Response to “Football, et alia”

  1. Wendy Says:

    Right there with you. Both my husband and I went to schools without football teams at all and thought that was in their favor. My second is a boy and he’s a big boy who seems to be built more like my brother (husky) than my husband (lanky). We’ve declared “no football” (he’s 16-months-old), but we’ll see if we stick with our principles should he decide that’s what he wants to do.

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