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?