Ah, it’s football season.
For me, it started last Friday at Kinnett Stadium with the game between Columbus High and Jordan.
I hadn’t realized I’d missed it so much.
Listening to the clash of helmets and the blast of the whistle was surprisingly soothing. So were the cries and claps from fans and the chants from the student section and the fight songs from the marching band.
I saw several old friends and had some great conversations. If I had to describe the whole evening in one word, I would say “camaraderie.” Or even “fellowship.”
On our way home, Bess and I passed a convenience store, and I realized the feeling I’d had all night was actually one of relief.
That’s because we weren’t stopping to pick up bags of ice.
For the past two years after every game, I’d stop and pick up three large bags of ice and take them home and put them in the tub of the boys’ bathroom.
When our oldest son, who was an offensive lineman, got home, he’d hobble upstairs to the bathroom and make himself an ice bath and sit in it for probably way too long. We’d sometimes call up to see if he was OK. Then he’d come downstairs and eat dinner. By this time, it was after midnight.
Sure, it was exciting having a son play football, especially last season when the Blue Devils beat teams we never thought they could beat and had a winning season and went to the playoffs.
But it was stressful too.
Just leaving work and getting up to Kinnett Stadium was a tough thing for me to pull off on a Friday evening. More times than not, I sat in a traffic jam on J.R. Allen Parkway at the Schomburg Road exit. I knew I was going to miss kickoff when I rolled down the window and heard, through the woods, the starting lineups being announced over the loudspeaker.
As a parent, I wanted to be there to see every play. I wanted to support him when he did his job and encourage him when he didn’t. And I realized pretty quickly that it’s a lot harder for him to do his job when he’s blocking a gigantic kid who’s going to play in the SEC.
Funny how that works.
Most of all, I felt relief when he went down in a pile and then got back up. Football is a violent game, and you’re never really surprised when any sort of injury happens. As a parent, you might have plans after game, but in the back of your mind you know they could change.
So that’s why I felt relief.
I have two younger sons, and neither of them play football. The freshman plays trumpet in the band. The junior hangs out in the student section, probably after painting himself blue.
Sure, it’s not as exciting as watching their brother try to stop a 350-pound man from killing the quarterback.
But it’s just as rewarding. From now on, I’m happy to sit back and enjoy the show.
Words of wisdom
One show I don’t usually enjoy is watching my alma mater, Vanderbilt, play football, but for some reason I do it anyway.
For some reason, I believe they can win.
Thursday night, the Commodores played South Carolina at home and somehow were a 4.5-point favorite. Of course, they lost.
Of course, I felt the same old angst.
Or as a fellow Vandy fan posted on Facebook, “I was mad but not surprised.”
The morning after, my 20-year-old my daughter sent me this text:
“Just a reminder that your success does not hinge on Vanderbilt’s success as a football team. Have a great day.”
Thanks, honey. I’ll try to remember that.