Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"I Wish I Were a Pill Bug."

My husband and I aren't really sports fans. Okay, okay: we're not sports fans at all. I can't tell you when baseball season is or who won the Super Bowl last year or name more than three big name sports stars. Or maybe two.

We don't watch sports on tv, our kids have been to exactly one baseball game (where we stayed for two innings while one slept and one whined), and our one attempt at Little League was an unmitigated disaster.

So we were a little surprised when our then-seven-year-old announced last year that he wanted to play football. I didn't even know he knew what football was. Are you sure? Do you know how to play? That's the game with the pointy ball, you know? If you sign up, you have to play the whole season, right? Yeah, yeah, Mom.

I started hunting down a football league. It turns out, around here at least, the only kids' football league is Pop Warner. I was a little put off by the expense, and the paperwork, and the letter that read, in part: "Football is a very serious commitment," (because, you know, I have a hard time taking anyone in tight pants running around after a ball all that seriously). But the most astonishing part was that the flag football teams, which are made up of 5-7 year olds, have mandatory practice three nights a week for an hour and half, with games every Saturday! This, in my not-so-humble opinion, is completely insane. But if your kid wants to play football, it's literally the only game in town.

And as crazy as it is, it's nothing compared to the absurdity that is tackle football, which is what my now eight-year-old is playing this year. The eight-year-olds have practice two hours a night, five nights a week, with games every Saturday. Which means, if you're counting, that they play football six times a week. If you factor in driving time, we as a family are committed to nearly 20 hours per week of pee wee football--when the completely football-mad coach doesn't keep us half an hour late at practice or insist on a meeting after the game. On practice nights (i.e. every weeknight), my son doesn't get dinner until eight pm, which is actually his bedtime.

But if I find it all annoying and just slightly over-the-top, my poor husband has it much, much worse. He's an assistant coach. He coaches at every practice and every game and is regularly required to attend coaching workshops on the weekends and coaches' meetings at night. He is not a football fan; he's a dad, and he's doing his best to be supportive of his kid. He's a good coach, because he's good with the kids and does a great job of keeping them enthusiastic and making it fun. But I think it's safe to say he doesn't care a whole heck of a lot about playbook or the game films (yes, really) or the coach's latest plan for scoping out the competition.

So when he found out that he had to attend a coaches' meeting tonight (to go over game films at the bachelor apartment of the head coach--who doesn't even have kids, by the way--to the accompaniment of "hot links"--and I can only speculate what those might be), the one football-free night of the week, he was...disappointed. He's been...disappointed...all day. But the closer it got to the time he needed to leave, the more he slumped into the sofa, and the more scrunched up his face got, and the more his whole demeanor just sort of projected "I don't wanna!"

When I got home from walking the dog this evening and asked him, very gently, "Isn't it time for you to be going?", he gave me the same expression the dog usually reserves for those mornings when she doesn't get waffles and answered morosely:

"I wish I were a pill bug."

At least they don't play football, huh?

17 comments:

Knitman said...

First of all it warms my heart to read of Americans who are not sport nuts and of an American dad who feels this way. I feel so sorry for him. Seriously. I'd HATE it.

helenkosings said...

I loved playing sports when I was a kid, but now it's just crazy. For this first time this year, I have two children in sports....and I hate it. The time we had as a family is just gone gone gone. The way Pop Warner football is run - it isn't a game: it's a JOB. I wish you well.

Tammy said...

Welcome to my world! Look at the bright side, at least football games have a time limit and the season is fairly short.

I feel for ya!

stitchywitch said...

My husband and I are not sports fans at all either (he's mostly indifferent, I fall more in the "active dislike" category.) One of my fears in life is having athletic children someday (unlikely, given the total nerdy clumsiness of their parents, but still...) You have my sympathy, as well as your poor husband. I can't imagine that kind of schedule - when would they have time to do anything else? As a private music teacher I go through this every sports season - parents not understanding why I cannot hold their spot open during the season, me not understanding why you would pull your kids from piano lessons to play football.

lilibethsgarden said...

Hubby and I aren't sports fans of any kind either (yay for hubby!). I really really feel for you guys, because we'd be feeling exactly the same way as your waffle-less dog!

vanfox23 said...

I feel your pain. Even though I have two girls, we are still running to cheer practices and gymnastics. They cheer for basketball which isn't as freakishly insane as the football. I have been meaning to blog about this all week, hopefully today because today is a free day.

I do have a question.....how did you get lucky enough to find a man that doesn't like sports??? I'm jealous.... :0)

Kelli Simone said...

I am an avid football fan (nothing like a good football game in the crisp air of fall). I played sports (no football for girls back then) my entire life even now as an adult.

I still think the Pop Warner system is insane. Too many men who wish they had made it to the professional league pushing children way too hard.

I wish you and your family well. If he continues it does get rougher as they get older. ~ksp

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Aww, that's a rough one! My husband is very opposed to sports and I don't know if he would be able to handle it, so YAY for your husband!

Hey, how's the scooter going btw?

Steph B said...

My 12 year old has been bugging us (off and on) to play football for some time now. What you've described is one of the main reasons I keep saying "NO!" Too many of the coaches take something that should be fun for the kids - remember, it's a GAME?!? - and turn it into just another stressful, exhausting, frustrating experience for everyone. I'd much rather teach my kids to knit - now there's a useful life skill!

Marti said...

When people start talking football I usually say "how bout them Yankees?" I totally understand where you are coming from. My dh on the other hand has dragged me to a few football games (we live a block from the field) and he is embarrassing. Yelling and carrying on. I end up walking around and chatting with people who, like me, are there to visit not to watch. I feel so sorry for your dh!

Kim said...

Whoa, that is a seriously over-the-top practice and game schedule! I feel for your DH and you. Hopefully your son is enjoying himself. We are not football people at all either.

trek said...

I agree that that is too much of a time commitment for such young children. In high school, I can understand practices 5-6 days a week - their bodies are stronger and they don't have early bedtimes - but not for early grammar school students.

Much sympathy going your way.

Me7of11 said...

My stepson did football for three years (age 7-10) and we loved it. Practice was 1 hour twice a week with games on Saturday. Parents all cheered both sides of the field and every kid got field time. My son learned the rules of the game and how to work together to accomplish a common goal. He got fresh air, exercise, and made friends all over the county.

What you describe is horrific and shameful--especially since it is the only program offered. I think it should be illegal to require a child of 8 to practice more than 3 hours a week. Your husband is to be commended for his dedication.

Patty said...

Where's the 'fun' and 'play' in that schedule? I think children's sports has gone way over the top with practices and their more competitive nature. Our wee one isn't old enough to be at that stage yet but I've heard enough 'hocky mom' conversations to be seriously frightened about that time in the future. Your poor, poor hubby. We feel for him.

kmkat said...

If you are very lucky, your son will realize, we all hope sooner rather than later, that 20 hours of football/week is nuts. I just hope, for your sake, that it doesn't take until he discovers girls to realize it.

bearliner said...

thank you, it's good to know that there are non-fanatics out there. My daughter played softball and soccer in high school, no Pop Warner, so not that much practice or tournaments, I could not have survived those. Thanks to knitting and reading I was able to attend a few games.(I did miss the only goal that she kicked,must have been counting stitches,sorry).

Angelika said...

I joint the ranks for the so called "Soccer Mom's" this year and enrolled my kids in cub scouts and tea kwon do. This is only two nights a week and I already feel like it's very demanding for me. At least they are doing other exercise than their thumbs (gameboy). Kudos to you husband.