To Moms of boys wanting to play football,
Growing up on the West Coast, I played every sport I could – soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, I swam and for a short period I was even in a bowling league, but the only time I got to play football was at school during recess. I am pretty sure that the universal rules of recess football are still the same: Two-hand touch (when the recess lady was watching), one run per every four downs, two completions for a first down and we always debated whether we were going to count “Alligator” or “Mississippi” to rush the passer.
My parents never allowed playing organized football to be an option for me. They didn’t want me to get hurt. In the spring of eighth grade, the high school football coach came to our middle school to talk to a bunch of us about playing high school football. I was interested in soccer and the other sports at the time but playing football was definitely intriguing. My mom still would not let me play.
For two more years I continued to play other sports, and on Friday nights, as the football team played under the lights, I sat with the rest of the student body and watched. I really wanted to play, but my mom wouldn’t budge.
In the summer between my sophomore and junior year, unbeknownst to me, a group of my friends’ parents ganged up on my mom and convinced her that she would really regret it if she didn’t allow me to play. Amazingly, she finally relented and said I could play!
I played that season of football and fell in love. I have not missed a football season since that fall of 1985 and my life has never been the same.
The game of football has so much to teach and so much to give.
Football taught me what it means to be a part of something bigger than myself. Success in football requires selflessness and true teamwork. It is impossible to have any kind of personal success without your teammates – impossible. No matter how talented an individual might be, he will never win one versus eleven. In a powerful way, the game of football is very humbling as it demands that players put the team over the individual.
A football team is unlike any other, in that it depends on all kinds of body types and skill sets. Short, tall, stocky, thin, fast, not so fast, strong, not as strong, cerebral, and hardheaded – they all can have a place and a position on a football team. There are so many different roles and positions and every one of them matters.