Sunday, October 21, 2018

That may have been a 400 lb, 30 year old man on the field...

I sat through my 4th rainy high school football game of the season, watching Kid 1 play one of the last games of his Senior year.  It was Homecoming for our inner city Dallas high school, already the underdog right out of the gate in Friday night's game against a suburban football power house.  And as people slipped and slid down the steps of the bleachers on that miserable night at Forester Field in Dallas, I watched my son get plowed down on the field, time and again, by what looked to be a 400 lb, 30 year old man - and made a note to myself to inquire about birth certificates for the opposing team's players.  

The other team brought with them - obvious speed, talent, precision, and what looked like a full bus load of well practiced aggression - trash talking our boys all night long on the field.  They also brought the world's loudest band - and when they played through the entire half time show time allotment for both schools - with no regard for our Homecoming festivities and special performances - another mental note was made to check the UIL rules of behavior for band programs, especially in the category of rudeness and inconsideration.  But our adorably awesome band? ... Though they rarely got the opportunity to toot their own horns that night because of you know who..... stood at the ready to share their spirit if ever given the chance.  Go BAnd!

The suburbs ended the night by playing for half of eternity even after the game was over - loudly overtaking the coaches' post game huddle with the players, and most noticeably, over our school's game night tradition of player, staff and cheerleaders joining hands to sing their Alma Mater.  

But our school did what they do best, though the best for our boys on this Friday night
got them only as far as a 78 to 0 score in favor of the other team.  
But I'm calling a win for us on this one.... as it takes more strength and power to share
what you have plenty of with someone who has less, than it does to beat someone
who’s already down.  

In the parable of The Good Samaritan in the Bible, Jesus tells of a traveler, a Jew, who was beaten, robbed and left on the side of the road.  Pretty much everyone who passes him by takes notice, but keeps walking.... until a Samaritan - a people who didn't much get along with Jews (um, football rival teams on a Friday night?) - is the one who stops and helps the injured man.  The Samaritan takes him to a safe place, pays for his care, and even promises to come along a bit later to take care of any extra expenses that come up.  And y'all, I get all the warm feels just thinking about the degree of nice showing up there.  

And I think this is where the mom in me stops trying to talk football and starts to talk about what really matters - beyond the game and beyond the score, and about raising kids into good adults.  

I guess Friday night's score will forever be a sore spot for my Senior Varsity player, but as I try to remind him, eye rolls expected, ... Sweetheart, it's only a game.  

Because when my son comes home after school and tells me that he spent part of practice changing a flat tire for a parent at the school, or that the team has to be there late one day because they're helping a neighbor with a yard project, I know that his teachers and coaches are looking far beyond Friday night's game and right into the hearts of these young people.  When practice is paused until all players are on board with the required grades to play, the real lesson of team work is taught and learned.  When the coaches organize a team breakfast with their biggest rival team, in an effort to build healthy competition via friendship and common ground, I know that life lessons are being served up larger than Friday night's score.  Go Coaches!  

And when my son's coaches and teachers are invested not only in his contribution to the football program, or his future playing prospects, but his prospects as a contributing member of society, I know that he's in the hands of adults that have some of life's biggest questions figured out. .... Possible recipe being, take what you have to offer, use the heck out of it, and then share it with someone else.  Bring someone along with you and lift someone up behind you, and may the road to wherever be smoothly paved and well lit for your travels.  

I hope that happens for our giant beast of an opponent as well. Because one day all these kids will walk off that field and need to know how to live life without the Friday Night Lights deciding their priorities.  I think my own kid has had enough of a mixed curriculum in that area to stand a good chance.  

Friday's game was hard to watch.  It's always hard to see your kid get knocked around on the field or off.  But as a parent, I'm in the business of raising good people, and way too much of the time, y'all, it involves a few hard knocks.  And knowing that growing up involves strength training in humility, tolerance and grace, I'm proud to share that job with the amazing teachers at Bryan Adams High in Dallas ISD.    

And yes, those wonderful kids, coaches, cheerleaders and staff still joined hands on the sideline after the game - despite the noise of the other team, and stood together as the family that they have become over their years together.    

The giant may have won last Friday, but I think our kids are winning the game that really matters.  

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