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The dark side of Friday night lights

Femaelstrom
Alison Osius
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

“You are the worst football mom in the world,” said the boy in the passenger seat in disgust.

“She is the worst football mom in the world,” the other agreed from the back, matter-of-factly.

I am not saying I ever liked football, or followed or even really comprehended the game. I never went to one game in college. Well, I did go to one, but I got cold, and left. However, before this particular conversation, I had just been to two football games: the one we were returning from, and the one the day before, Sunday.



My malfeasance had apparently begun with the moment on Sunday when a group tackled a child, and I said in indignation, “Number X hit him really hard!” The cluster had come to rest with this boy wrapped around the other’s head.

My husband, Mike, and Teddy, 15, had stared at me, and then Mike had spoken very slowly and carefully.



“That’s what they do in football. They hit.” The two of them then edged away with backward glances.

After the game, Roy, 12, reported exuberantly, “I drilled Y.”

“You shouldn’t do that!” I said, aghast. “He’s your friend. He’s the child of our friends!”

The last straw was when my older son cheerfully reported that on the bus to his game he had told his teammates: “All of you, get number Z.” Z is his lifelong friend. I was horrified and said so, apparently missing the bonhomie.

Another issue has always been audibly worrying about injury. And, last week, referring to a touchdown as a “goal.” That did bring kitchen conversation to a halt.

Still, personally, I think I do OK.

“If I’m so terrible, Teddy,” I pointed out heatedly, “what was I doing Friday night?”

He had had an away game that evening, clear in Hayden. The schedule said that we should pick up the kids at the high school at 1 – a.m., not p.m. Saturday morning.

That day the new old car that I had just bought (my sister’s before she moved from Paonia to Dubai, but that is another story) broke down, landing in the shop until Tuesday. Luckily my funky ’94 Suzuki Sidekick was still in our driveway.

I tried, though in vain, to doze before the scheduled picked, knowing I was getting up in the morning to go climbing. At 12:40 a.m. my alarm rang, and I tried to call Teddy.

No signal. Not knowing what to do, I decided I should go. I arrived on the dot at 1:00 ” to see absolutely no one else in the parking lot. Did I even have the right place? My schedule was at home on the refrigerator door. I waited, occasionally turning on the heater to warm my feet, for over an hour.

At 2:05 a.m., the bus arrived. Teddy was one of the last off, and I helped him collect his gear as everyone drove away. Then I tried to start the car. Nothing. I didn’t even have any jumper cables ” they were in the other car. Then one more car, one last mother, pulled in ” and had cables.

I didn’t play team sports myself; I loved the individual sports of skiing, climbing and windsurfing. But in my senior year of college, my roommate Rin started a women’s rugby team. I joined ” and was illuminated. I had never understood what team sports mean: working together, learning together, simply having something to talk about.

And so my sons have always played team sports; and they are crazy about football, hate to miss a practice. For the older boy, entering a new school, it has meant a community.

I worry about my kids getting hurt, but the truth is I broke my nose (or rather someone broke it for me) in rugby. We tackled, hard.

Tonight I will again venture out in the wee hours, this time to pick up Teddy after a game in Meeker. And I’ve learned a few things about football lately. Like this time I’m staying in bed until he calls.


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