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Posts Tagged ‘football’

What Little Boys Don’t Know

sam and sandorSandor and Sam are both eleven and on the 5th grade football team. They are both athletic and start most games. But they are not, apparently, the “jocks” who rule the fifth grade at Fountain Lake.  According to the boys there are four or five boys who are on offense  and they think they are really special. All the girls love them, they make fun of other kids and they “act like jerks with swag”, explained Sandor.   Eleven year old with swag, I really want to see what that looks like.

My boys seemed a little depressed by the state of affairs in fifth grade until I said, “Hey, I’ve got some really good news for you.”

“What?” they both appeared in the kitchen.

“Unload the dishwasher and I’ll tell you.”

They got to work and waited for me to give them the good news.

“When you guys get into junior high and high school things are going to change. Right now football is the only game in town so the star  football players are all big and bad and get  the attention. But in a couple of years it all spreads out. There are gonna be super stars in band, in basket ball, in school plays, even in EAST lab doing crazy awesome stuff on computers. All the focus won’t be on just a hand full of jerky football players.”

They stopped unload the dishes. “Really?”

“Sure, think about it. Last night at the Mr. Fountain Lake contest all those guys on stage were really popular but only a couple of them played football. Do you remember who won?”

They both said “Eli!”

“That’s right and he’s not a jerk at all. Eli is awesome, he’s the president of student council, he started the robotic team, he’s super smart. But he’s not a jerk and he helps people, he’s not a bully.”

“Yeah, Eli is awesome,” one of them said. And they started unloading the dishes again, until somebody burped and the other one laughed and threw a a gross wet sponge. It missed it’s target but hit the cat. The boys then tried to catch the cat to apologize. They never actually caught it but did end up wrestling under a Sponge Bob blanket and I finished unloading the dishwasher.

My Kid is a BAD Sport

    The fourth grade Cobra team lost their fourth game I a row. 14 to 9.  It’s a great team but desperately needs some new offensive moves.

    During the game my son, Sandor , had some monstrous tackles, brutal, effective but clean. The game announcer even said his name four times. Sure, they butchered the pronunciation of his first name but they got Hampo right. Still the Cobras lost. 

    As Sandor walked off the field he pulled off his helmet then threw it on the ground. I was stunned. What the hell was that from a 72 pound linebacker? I caught his eye and nodded toward the helmet. He was wise enough to turn around and pick it up before stalking down the field.

    As he walked, coaches pounded him on the back and said things like, “great second half Sandor” and “good game man, you were in there.”

    Sandor, who has really good manners, ignored them. I caught up with my boy in the in zone and turned him around by the shoulder pads. “Hey, what’s the matter, you had an awesome game.”

    His eyes were red and tears rolled down his sweaty, dirty face. “We lost again, we lose all the time. We’re a bunch of losers.” He was almost yelling.

“And the other team was really mean, they were saying bad stuff about us and they laughed every time one of our guys got hurt. I just want to grab them by the facemask and punch them in the face. They are a bunch of retards.”

I was horrified.  My kid was melting down and acting like a total jerk. Kids who pull this kind of stuff make me crazy. And I think really bad things about their parents because I figure the punk attitude comes from them. I’ve always been so proud of my kids because they were good sports and kept things in perspective.  “Stop, right now, don’t say another  word. You’re about to get in huge trouble. Listen,  Buddy, you can’t turn on your own team. Those are your guys, those are your brothers, win or lose. You’re gonna be playing ball with them for the next eight years. And guys talk trash in football. You just have to ignore them. “

“But we always lose and it sucks”.

“You know what?  You might as well quit the team right now. You have to play football because you love the game and you love your team. If it’s all about winning we should go tell the coach you want to quit. Is that what you want?”

He shook his head and sniveled. “No, I love football.”

“You’re a black belt. You’re the kid who should be telling your buddies to hang in there, not feeling sorry for yourself.”

He nodded as though he understood then climbed into the back seat of the car. Did he hear or understand anything I said? I won’t know until next Saturday morning, after the pee-wee game.  One thing I do know, if we don’t come up with something new for the offense, Sandor’s attitude, sportsmanship  and heart will once again be put to the test.

Friday Night American Warriors

It’s just Wednesday but I’m already thinking about this weekend. I’m starting to twitch.The Fountain Lake Cobra football team is in the semi-finals.  They weren’t supposed to be. I want to thank them for thrilling me all season.

Friday mornings…are  awesome.On Friday mornings when I drive around the school I get to see all the senior high players in their big purple jerseys. They stand together, they swagger together. The girls bump up against them and everybody laughs.

If it’s a home game the colossal lights will be turned on in the afternoon and the field will glow as the sun sets. School busses from other towns will roll onto campus. They are strangers and they don’t wear purple. The stadium is beautiful and pristine, waiting for the Friday night warriors.

 Most of our boys are sweet guys, they hug their moms and their mom’s friends. They throw footballs at the little boys who wear jerseys on Fridays too, hoping they will some day be able to take the field when the stands are packed and the home crowd cheers and rings cowbells. Alumni in skinny jeans and hightops and camo, faded overalls and ball caps line up, shoulder to shoulder to cheer.

The Cobra players are all just teen-age boys, all on the verge of becoming men, taking care of business, getting a job done, for their school, for their fans and for a tiny Arkansas community built around the purple and gold Cobras.

No matter what happens this weekend the Cobra football team has given us  all so much this season. They have played  hard, they have come from behind and they never quit in the 4th quarter. The boys have made everyone in the community proud to say we are from Fountain Lake.

*Please write me at hampoland@gmail.com or leave a comment. That makes my day!  This story is a re-write from earlier in the season.

Good Manners…A Competitive Sport

If you want to teach little kids anything, you have to be tricky, all the  time. This is especially true if  you want to teach kids, who don’t belong to you, how to act.

I had three little boys in the back seat of my car, squirming like puppies. One kid was mine, one hangs at our house a lot, the other was a new addition. I like this new boy but he doesn’t have bad manners. He’s got NO MANNERS.

“No Manners”, means I can’t get mad at him right away.” No Manners” means nobody in his life ever insisted he act right. Nobody, including his parents, ever looked at him crossed eyed until he said “thank you” or “yes ma’am”. “No Manners” means I have to explain to him how I expect him to act at our house for a couple of weeks before I can get mad at him for being rude.

So, I’ve got three smelly eight year olds in the back seat, rolling and laughing.

“Everybody got their seatbelt on?” I holler.
‘Yes ma’am” I hear from two boys.
“How you doing Joey? You all belted up?” I ask of the third boy, who has “No Manners”.
“Yeah.” he says.
I watch my kid elbow Joey but he doesn’t get it and I realize I have to try a different tact.
“You ready for some food, Jacob?” I ask of the kid that stays at our house all the time.
“Yes ma’am!” he shouts like a tiny blonde Marine.
“Good answer,Jacob!” I shout and stick my hand into the back seat for a high five.
“You guys ready for some food and football?” I yell at them all.
“”Yes ma’am!” my son and Jacob shout, competitively, trying to outdo each other. And then they laugh.
I say, “I’m pretty sure Jacob won that time, Son,”  Jacob does a little hapy dance in the back seat.
Our new boy watched Jacob and my kid, he was figuring out what was going on, It was the Good MANNERS GAME It’s a competitive sport. He wants to figure out how to win. That means he’s interested and that means I can train him.

I know that sounds weird, that I would try to train a rough cut little boy to have better manners, like a dog or a boxer.  But as the great MMA coach Danny Dring says, “You have to work with what you got.”

What have I got, a little boy with terrible manners, but I still like him.  The key is he’s a little boy. That means he’s competitive and likes to be the winner. If having good manners means he’s a winner, he’ll yell “Yes ma’am” in a heart beat.  Little girls like being winners but they really like the praise.  

At the end of the day Joey’s manners were much better, mainly because he wanted to beat the other boys. But even when we were alone, in a C Store and I asked him if his drink was cold he said, “yeah,” then changed it to “yes Ma’am”. I gave him a thumbs up and he grinned. Everybody likes to win.

Your Sons First CUP CHECK!

Buying that first cup or jock strap is a huge moment in a boys life; it’s pretty big for a mom too. Because it means you son is doing something possible violent and dangerous and you are so very very proud of your little warrior.

We had to buy Sandor his first cup when he was six, he’d been sparring in TKD for a few weeks, got nailed between the legs with a front kick and drove immediately to the sporting good store.

Sandor opened it in the car and spent the next fifteen minutes in the backseat pretending it was a boat and the entire gang from Scooby Do were floating in the ocean.
The next day when he went back to Taekwondo class and I explained what he ad to do with the cup he laughed until he drooled. then he told every kid in the building that he was wearing a cup. “Listen, I’m knocking on it,” he said and drummed his knuckles against his crotch. “You can punch me right there if you want, I’ll be ok.”  Then they all started punching and kicking each other and yelling, “Cup Check!”

A couple of weeks ago we had a big workout on a Saturday with several other Taekwondo schools. At some point I walked to the back dressing room. There was a tiny little boy standing in front of me in his white briefs. “Can you help me with this?” he said earnestly and tried to hand me his miniature cup.
I shook my head, “I’ll find you folks. Wait right here.”

Now Sandor is eight and the novelty has worn off.Thou last week in the car a younger boy asked him what a cup was for and he said, “You know, to protect all your important stuff, dude.” Sandor is so grown up now,he doesn’t really laugh when ask him if he put his cup it on before class or football practice. He just reaches into his pants to check. What a man.

I just realized yesterday I wrote about sports bras. I seem to have a theme going. I wonder what’s next. Leave me a comment.

You Can’t Do That On The Foot Ball Field!

                                                             Sandor is eight and gets to play tackle football this year. He is excited to the extreme. I explained to his taekwondo  instructor that he would not be around much for the next two months. This is the first time in five years he’s taken a break from Martial Arts training.

Yesterday was his first practice in full pads. Sandor looked as though somebody plugged him into a car battery; he was so jacked up. The first thing the tiny players did was the sideways crab run. I watched as my boy fell down, stumbled and came in almost last. I couldn’t help myself. I yelled for him to come to me.

“Sandor, this is just rotary jogging, like we do in class.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that. Ok” He ran back to line up. We rotary jog in taekwondo so we learn to use angles when sparing. Sandor turned into the fastest kid in the crab run.

Next the coach (who is wonderful) lined the little boys up facing each other, to work on blocking drills. I watched as Coach blew the whistle and boys crashed into each other like miniature samurai. Then Sandor instantly leg swept his opponent, slung him over his hip and took the top mount. The kid on the bottom was confused and obviously frustrated. I watched Sandor take down all his opponents with the same smooth jujutsu moves.

When the coach saw what was going on he came to me. “Does he watch a bunch of cage fighting or wrestling?”

I shook my head. “He’s been training in  Martial Arts since he was three. It’s just muscle memory. Tell him there’s no grappling or leg sweeps in foot ball.”

“Wow, I’ve never seen a kid do that so fast.” He laughed.

“You’re lucky he didn’t arm-bar or sidekick.”

Now Sandor understands blocking, and what is and isn’t involved. But
I want to say “good job” to all you Martial Arts Instructors. Your students do, in fact, remember, exactly what you teach them.

Am I Going To Let Him Play Football? Hell……

I hear parents asking each other, “Are you going to let him play football”?  They actually whisper the question because they don’t want people to think their kid is a wus. And then they usually say something like, “I just don’t want him to wreck his knees and be crippled for life.”

Ok, that’s a valid point but football is America’s sport, it’s our game, it’s our passion. And if you don’t let your kid play when he’s young he’ll never make the team or get off the bench in Jr. High.  Trust me, he’ll be the kid that runs the wrong way when they finally give him the ball, doesn’t understand a two point conversion and can’t keep score.

Sure, football can be dangerous, but it’s nothing compared to Spain’s national sport…Bullfighting. Let your kid stand in front of a 2,000 pound bull in nothing but a silky cape, suddenly that linebacker doesn’t seem so bad.

According to the Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, cheer-leading is the most dangerous sport in America. Drop you daughter off of a second floor balcony and hope three sophmors actually catch her.  Now that’s dangerous.

The national sport of Afghanistan is called Buzkashi and is kind of like polo, everyone is on horseback, but they use a  dead goat with no head or legs instead of  a ball. I don’t know how dangerous that is but it sounds really gross.

Would you deny your child the chance to be a Sumo Wrestler? That’s pretty dangerous but it brings honor to your family. Cliff diving in Mexico looks pretty deadly too.

My point is, when you’re thinking about football or any team sport, safety shouldn’t be you’re only consideration. When a kid is part of a team, they learn the importance of protecting team members, on and off the field. They figure out it’s not all about “them” and that one person generally can’t win a game. It takes everyone working together. When they play team sports they learn to respect or at least pay attention to coaches, even if they seem mean. And that’s an incredibly valuable lesson because someday your child will have a boss and chances are, they will be mean to them, at some point during their career. Kids have to learn to deal with that.

So, am I going to let Sandor play football?  Hell yes! He’s American and I want him to know what it feels like to stand on the sidelines while the National Anthem is sung, I want him to feel the joy of winning with his team, and the heartbreak of loosing then having to take a long bus ride home.

If Sandor wants to play football, then he’ll play football and I’ll be the crazy woman screaming in the stands, thankful the quarterback is passing a  football instead of a dead goat.