Family / Kids

How My Son Taught Me to Love Football

Football was one sport that my family had not watched in my childhood and I really had no understanding of the rules which kept me from appreciating it and led to spending most Super Bowl Sundays chatting with family and friends in the room farthest from the television. I was disdainful of friends who said that their spouses spent all day Sunday in their family rooms watching game after game.

When our first son was born, we were adamant that no one buy him cheesy sports-themed outfits. It was partially that we didn’t want to pronounce him athletic just because of the Y chromosomes but also because I felt it was too simplistic, too predictable. Incidentally, we also took the same stance on camouflage gear for our precious infant. It’s not that we wanted to emasculate him, it’s just that we aspired to something different. Less violent, maybe? More cerebral? And I also didn’t like cheap polyester baby clothes.

Fast forward eight years.

“Please, please can I play football?”

“No, you’ll get a concussion!”

The following year…

“Please, please can I play football?”

“No, you’ll have brain damage forever!”

The following year, age ten…

“Please, please can I play football? My best friend (who also has very level-headed and reasonable nice, Jewish parents – the unspoken words) is playing!”

“OK, fine! Try it out, and the first time you ‘ring your bell’ you’re out of there.”

We smugly looked at each other and knew deep in our hearts that he would give up after a week.

Needless to say, he loves it. Loves. It. He ran the three blocks from our house to the field each and every practice (three to five days per week in season) and game (urgently commanding us to not be late, though he had not previously had an internal clock or sense of urgency to do anything), day after day, week after week. I have to say, as a former soccer player in my youth, there was something about that crisp fall northeastern U.S. air that I just couldn’t resist. I began to drink the Kool Aid, signing up for volunteer slots, attending each and every game that I could in far-flung New Jersey towns where children’s heads are still being offered up for semi-sacrificial offering.

With my son at my side, I slowly began to love the game too. We played catch in the yard, and I started to get that evasive spiral just right. He cheered me on. We then started watching professional games together on TV and were thrilled when a great catch or play was made. Here was something my boy could teach me, and he was a very patient instructor. We hung out together and it became one of our special things in which our other three family members had no interest. Learning to love football is about learning that my son is his own man and not just our little baby anymore. This is a wonderful part of parenthood that I did not anticipate loving as much as I do.

So, what will I be doing this Sunday night with my oldest son? Why I’ll be cuddled up on the couch with him, possibly eating a nacho or two, rooting for whoever keeps their balls fully inflated, and definitely learning from my boy watching the great American game, the Super Bowl.

BoysOfFall B

Photo Credit: Rose Oosting

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3 Comments

  1. Deborah Goldstein says:

    THAT is unconditional love. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if our kids wanted to play football, and I’m relieved that they have shown no interest to date. I think it’s wonderful that the sport has enhanced your relationship with your son, and I wish you many more positive (and injury free) experiences.

    And, I’m so happy for him that you’re a doctor of nursing!!!

  2. Roger Rosen says:

    I played football for ten minutes at some point. It’s a wonder that my mother actually let me. Of course, what we used to call overprotective we now call brain injury, so maybe she was onto something. I loved the game but couldn’t get used to the pads, the helmet specifically. I quit and took up dancing. It’s similar to football in that you destroy your body doing it. It’s not similar to football in that no one is supposed to actively try and injure you.

    Glad you and your son found a new and exciting way to bond!!! That’s fabulous!

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