Please leave your thoughts...I love when you do that!
I am compelled to write this after recently witnessing some of the most disgusting displays of brutality and the poorest manners I have ever seen. To add to the horror of this, let me explain that our husbands, fathers, brothers and boyfriends are knocking themselves out TEACHING our sons how to participate in this rude, push, shove, smear activity. They actually enjoy it. I can't believe it. My son, the same one that keeps his elbows off the table during dinner and "please" and "thank you," was pulling other boys down in the mud. (many of those boys were his friends.) Sticking elbows in each others faces constantly. Pushing each other because the object of this "game" is apparently to be the only one of 22 players left standing on the field.
This is so confusing. Let me try a description of the actual play, as I saw it. Everyone gathers at a large striped field, hundreds of parents and friends of the 50 or 60 boys who apparently are going to participate. The boys all dress in short pants that don't fit very well, so they stuff the hips and knees and bottoms to make them real tight They also wear large shirts that they borrowed from some very big people, but again they stuff the shoulders so they can fill them out some. It's usually pretty cold so they wear long socks tucked in their short little pants. They also have cute little hats. These are equipped with convenient little handles that go in front of their faces. They use them to hold the hat when they aren't playing and to hold onto during some of the peculiar exercises that they do. Inside of the hats are earmuffs, of a sort.
The over-all picture is quite humorous. All those little boys all padded and stuffed up and resembling a gang of pigmy weightlifters. Of course, each boy is identified with a large number on his back so you can find your own muscle bound pigmy during the action. Now, each side or team wears a different color jersey to identify them. Each color or team lines up on their side of the field and these men, they are called "coaches", lead them in 5 or 6 minutes of vigorous exercises. This is done to loosen their tight little pigmy muscles. Considering what they're about to do, it is a wonderful idea. Finally, it's GAME TIME. Some game!
Eleven boys from each team run out on the field. Between them on a cute little plastic stand, (it's called a 'tee', but it doesn't look like a "T" at all) is an egg shaped, rough leather ball with a shoe lace holding it together! One team gets to kick the ball down the field at the other team. (I'm sure it would be much easier just to hand it to one of the other players. This is only the beginning of the rudeness though, it gets much worse.) Instead of letting him have the ball they just kicked at him, they all run down field and try to catch him and knock him down! When they succeed in driving this poor child into the grass, mud or whatever might be there, both teams line up to again. This time in little groups face to face with the ball on the fround right in the middle of them. You might think they would fight over it, but they don't, not yet. One boy squats practically over the ball and puts his hands on it. Another of his teammates puts his hands right in the crotch of the boy touching the ball! They call him the center and the one holding his crotch is the quarterback. (I'd call him something quite different, myself.) I was so embarrassed. Now, they yell out some numbers and all of a sudden all 22 boys are grabbing legs, arms or whatever they can reach to pull each other down to the ground. One boy, usually the one with the ball, gets the most attention. Everyone seems to want to play where he is. Some of his teammates stand near him or run beside him and shove the other team's players away, if they get too close to 'protected boy'. The other team, the one that just kicked the ball to them a minute ago, tries to take the ball back and cause physical discomfort to anyone who touches this dumb ball. Why did they kick it to them, if they didn't want them to have it?
If the boy with the ball runs or falls or somehow gets over a line on the field, he gets some points and another boy gets to try to get more points by kicking the ball over this huge high jump bar on the ends of the field. Then if they score...they kick the ball to the other team and it all starts over again!
Sometimes during the attempt to move their team to the other end of the field, the quarterback (remember him?) will throw the ball in the air to one of his teammates. If he catches it, he can run over that line. When they do this everyone playing chases him and tries to hurt him. It is all do silly. If they'd just leave him alone, he'd score and then their team could have the ball. Simple isn't it? Everyone shares and takes turns and everyone has fun. If a player is in their way, all they have to do is say, "Excuse me, please" and I'm sure the others would step aside. They just don't need to be so rude. I've spent years teaching my boy to be polite and there he was shoving people around and elbowing people and I just can't believe there is no rule against that stuff!
One time, you won't believe this, a boy from one team threw the ball to his teammate and a boy from the other team jumped up and grabbed it! It was NOT meant for him. I was just furious, as were many other parents. The umpires or whatever they are, actually let him keep the ball for his team. Can you believe that? Ridiculous. Rewarding such behavior.l
Remember the handle I told you about on their little hats? They sometimes use that to pull down the real big kids. The umpires get really made if they do that. They throw their hankies on the ground and blow their little whistles and make possibly obscene gestures to the crowd. Apparently there are some rules to this game, but not nearly enough. It's a horrid experience for a mom.
All of a sudden the game is over and I never saw one home run or anything. A look at the scoreboard tells me the 4th inning is over and the final score is 34-14. Amazing that I could sit through all that scoring excitement and not even notice that there were 48 runs scored!
And the language! Unreal! They say things like "smear him" or "sack him" (I agree something should be done about the quarterback, but sacking sounds extreme), "kill him." It is giving me chills just to recall it now.
Things will get better next year because I'm forming a group of concerned parents to present new rules and a code of conduct for these poor boys. We're also going to raise some money for uniforms that fit without all that cumbersome stuffing. They'll look s much neater. It'll be a much more civilized game when we are done. My son will be proud to say he plays football under our new system. Look out NFL---here comes the new breed!
Written (tongue in cheek) by
fall of 1977
This was published in the local paper here in the letter to the editor format, at their request. Many readers just thought I was an idiot. ;) The Durand Express