Summer is coming to an end, which is hard for me. I love the ease of summer. Bare feet, sundresses, the pool, the grill, the porch, not having to fight the kids to get up and get to school. Yes, I love the beautiful changing colors of fall. Yes, I love the crisp morning air. Yes, I love the cool, gentle breezes wafting through my windows while I drift off to sleep. And although these are all great reasons to welcome the changing of the seasons, they are also reminders of the long, cold, dark winter that is just around the corner. I’m not a big fan of the winter…the coats, the hats, the short days, the snowy nights. But I will try not to get ahead of myself…February is still many moons away…so for now, I will focus on waving goodbye to the lazy days of summer, and welcoming the return of long pants, denim jackets, scheduled activities…and football. Yes, football!
If you know me well, you know that football is my favorite part of the fall. When that first pre-season game comes on tv late in the summer, it’s like an old friend is back in town. I especially love the way it sounds–the whistles, the crowd, the crunch of shoulder pads, the marching bands in the background. I’ll take a Saturday afternoon high school or college game, a Sunday afternoon (or Monday/Thursday night) NFL game…it’s all good!
Football has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I remember sitting in my Aunt and Uncle’s den at the holidays, playing with lincoln logs and barbies, and listening to announcers discuss Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide and wondering why the Razorbacks fans wore such silly hats! I remember the family disputes over Pitt vs. Penn State (back in the day it was one of the biggest college games in Pennsylvania). I always rooted for Pitt, and even though I have many friends and family who are Penn State alums and/or live in State College, my heart doesn’t break when Penn State loses. I remember begging my brother to play his Monday Night Football board game with me back in the 70s–he wasn’t thrilled, but I believe that’s where I learned about “downs” and “two-point conversions” and now the texts that fly back and forth between the two of us on game day have become a cherished routine. And of course, my Steelers! My terrible towel is proudly displayed throughout the season and I am a diehard fan. (Except for a brief “affair” that I had with the Baltimore Colts — not to be confused with the dreaded Baltimore Ravens–when I was in college–they had a cute QB, what can I say!)
And now, I have a whole new football experience to add to my portfolio. Pop Warner! Our youngest son is proudly wearing #43 (Troy Polamalu!) for his first year of tackle football. He’s 10, and I was a bit worried about the whole tackle thing, but every day in practice he gets a little more confident and a little less timid. It’s a fantastic operation–the coaches focus on really teaching the fundamentals of the game–the rules, the nuances–it is about “winning,” but not necessarily “winning the game.” It’s about winning attitudes–being not only a good winner, but a good loser, a good teammate, a good friend, and yes, a good student. It’s about gaining skills and confidence and checking your egos at the gate and working as a cohesive unit. It has been so fun to watch, and such a great lesson for him. And it doesn’t hurt that he played in…and the team won…their first game last week. Here’s wishing the Maplewood/South Orange Packers (Bobcat Division) 7 more successful games…and a lifetime of memories!
*Photo of Bobcat Team courtesy of Maplewood Patch