Julie Seedorf: What is the appeal of football for players?

Published 9:50 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sprinkled Notes by Julie Seedorf


Are you ready for some football? I hear that question often. My answer is always the same. “No!”

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I am one of those in the minority when it comes to being a football fan. I like basketball — it’s played inside. I like baseball — it’s played when it’s warm. Part of my dislike of football also has to do with the fact I don’t understand the game, and the men in my family never seem to want to explain things to me because they are too busy shouting at the television.

It wasn’t that my family wasn’t sports fans. My uncles and cousins played baseball and some football. My mom and dad loved wrestling, but football didn’t seem to be on their radar. I attended football games as a teenager, but it was to cheer on my team and hang out with my friends.

I was relieved when one grandson decided to retire his jersey in fifth grade. He loved to try different sports, mastered many of them and then chose what he wanted to concentrate on as he got older. We went through taekwondo, gymnastics, basketball, football and baseball. He decided baseball was his sport of choice to participate in, along with fishing.

My other grandson loves football. We don’t make it to as many games as we would like because of distance, but this past weekend we were on the sidelines watching. His mother said we were lucky we weren’t there the weekend before to watch as the medics attended to him twice while he lay on the ground. I didn’t like the sound of that.

We dressed in warm clothes, had our coffee and hot chocolate in our gloved hands and shivered on the sidelines. Though this is fifth-grade football, it does get rough. We cheered and yelled. I was impressed with the coaching and the positivity of the coaches. Through the mistakes, the coaches’ voices were loud, but it was never negative, always positive but informative, explaining what the young kids could do to improve their game — very different from some of the coaches in my day and my kids’ playing days.

The parents behaved, too, cheering their kids on and never once getting irate or mad at the coaches’ directions. It was a very positive game until the last play of the game unfolded. Time was almost out. My grandson, right in front of us, made a dive along with another player. I saw his body twist back, his knees bent backward, kids on top of him. And then he lay and we heard the cry of pain. The coaches rushed to his side along with a medical person. It took a few minutes — they checked him out, talked to him and helped him up. He limped over to greet the opposing team.

His parents held their cool by the sidelines, not rushing over. I, as a grandma a very short distance away, wanted to rush over and make sure he was alright. My heart was pounding, but I stayed away and was thankful when I saw him get up and that it was only a minor injury.

I knew then why I do not embrace the sport of football. I have no idea why anyone would want to put that type of wear and tear on their body, especially at a young age where it could have repercussions for years to come. Yes, their bodies are young, but still.

My grandson, when he joined us ,wasn’t all smiles, but after a short time he was back to his normal cheerful self, talking about watching the football games on television and his game next week.

When our kids are little, we hold our breath when they fall or they teeter on the brink of getting hurt. We put them in car seats, lock cupboard doors, make sure they don’t cross the street in front of cars, don’t let them play with toys that were olden and golden in the ’60s and tell them not to fight with their friends, yet we throw them out on the football field to crash into one another. I guess it might be good to get their aggression out. I totally don’t get it.

There also were girls on his team. The girls played well, but although I support the women’s movement, I have a hard time with women playing football on a male team. I get that women need more of a voice and need to be included, but I sometimes wonder if we carry things too far. Why is it so wrong in this world we live in today to let women have things that belong totally to women and men have things that belong totally to men? I never felt threatened by the Boy Scouts. We had our own group and, had they wanted, we could have been taught some of the same things boys are taught without joining us together.

Equality is important. I support the women’s movement, and I love that now we have women’s sports teams. We needed that, because in the ’60s we only had the sports venue for men.

Men still like their getaways without us women, and we like our girls’ weekends. Does equality always mean we can’t be separate in something?

It’s a confusing world out there for people my age. We don’t know the right language to use. And we don’t always understand the division or inclusion of the sexes anymore. What was right to us is no longer acceptable. There is a big learning curve, and we try to understand, but if we fail, please cut us some slack — we are still learning.

I will never like football. There’s a saying, “No pain, no gain.” No one has ever told me what they gain from the pain. To me that’s insane. Wait! I don’t think I can use that word anymore.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Thursday. Email her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.