Fall in our household means we turn into athletic supporters. Oh get your minds out of the gutter people - I’m talking about supporting our favorite athletes! Watching games, driving to practices, hosting pasta suppers, tailgating, washing sweaty uniforms and more!
There’s the high school football team (NKB), the travel soccer team (BB), our beloved Iowa Hawkeye football team (regardless of whether they make it to a bowl game or not), fall golf (my favorite), and attendance at or paying attention to a whole bunch of other teams with which we’re not actively involved, just interested.
Now this is quite a departure from my youth. Growing up in a household with four daughters, one mom and one dad meant that there was only a tiny bit of testosterone in our home - and Dad was quite all right with that. Once a year, Dad watched the Iowa/Iowa State wrestling match on IPTV, but other than that, Sunday afternoons meant cooking “Sunday Dinner,” reading, napping, and decidedly NOT hearing the roar of the crowds blaring from the TV. About as close as we got to “sports” was going to Grandma and Grandpa’s for various holidays and the boy cousins would always have pro football on the little TV in the basement. Those gross, icky teenage boys plus Uncle Godfrey’s stinky cigars really turned me against watching sports on TV.
Upon meeting Dougie, my entire universe shifted with regard to sports. DB is completely and totally enthralled with sports of any sort. In our early dating years, I went to visit him at his college, and upon picking me up from the airport, we headed right to a sports bar. My trip was smack dab in the middle of “March Madness” and every game possible was blinking from the 27 TVs hanging from every corner of the place. It was completely bewildering to me. It’s not that I’d never seen a basketball game, I was after all in college and actively watching the Iowa Hawks’ basketball season. I’d just never seen that level of intensity, that fervor, that passion for watching the game.
Like any good sports fan, Dougie is a master of some pretty strange stats and details. You name just about any pro football player, and Doug can tell you not only where the guy went to college and the name of the head coach, but also the player’s high school and in most cases high school coach. He also remembers, in detail, the day we met – but only because it was the same weekend as the great
I learned quickly that each season just kind of melts into the next and it never really “ends.” To maintain a little sanity for me, a loose rule in our home is that professional baseball and basketball are taboo. This means that one’s “need” to control the TV remote for an NBA game is never allowed to take priority over a Julia Roberts movie marathon. However, come College Football Game Day or Zach Johnson playing well in any PGA tourney, the power grid in our town dims just a bit due to all 27 TVs in our home on full blast! Dougie is aware that the sports thing, even after 18 years, can sometimes be a bit much, and is careful to balance things out and tone down when he knows I need it.
My favorite part of fall sports is watching my kids. NKB is now in his sixth year of football, second at the high school level. Although the season not officially started yet, it appears he will be Safety on the JV team. He looks so dang BIG out on that field. I mean he is pretty tall to begin with, but once you add the shoulder pads, helmet and foam rubber pieces inside the girdle and pants, he’s just a giant! However, stand him up next to some of the varsity guys and he’s a relative runt! The height is there, but NOT the weight. The kid is 6’2.5” – 160 lbs. dripping wet, playing against guys 220 lbs. or more. Yikes! Did you know it is not possible for a fully-equipped football player to get into a Volkswagen Passat? Trust me on this one folks.
BB is out on the soccer field, and loving every minute. She’s a lefty and that powerful left foot has helped her around an unsuspecting opponent on more than one occasion. Although we’ve swiftly transitioned from soccer to basketball then back to spring soccer each of the past five years with nary a conflict, we might be approaching time to make The Choice: soccer OR basketball? This past spring she tacked on an additional basketball league, which was directly in conflict with soccer April-June. We have just been presented with another basketball opportunity which will conflict with soccer throughout the month of October, and are struggling to decide if she'll play or not. It just might be time to decide which sport she loves more, soccer or basketball? I think I know the answer, but I want her to discover it on her own.
Some people talk about the “over-programming” of kids today. I don’t know if mine are over-programmed or not – and thanks but no thanks, not looking for your opinions on this one. What I do know is that our kids participate in as many activities as they are inclined to and that we can realistically support. We did try hockey, baseball, dancing and piano, and probably a few others over the years. As they get older, there are fewer activities, but perhaps a deeper commitment to each. It's a real joy to watch them develop as athletes. I can't help but get a little lump in my throat every once in a while, seeing them out there on the field.
Birthday shout outs to Al and Mary Pat! Love you both!
"The values learned on the playing field--how to set goals, endure, take criticism and risks, become team players, use our beliefs, stay healthy and deal with stress--prepare us for life."
---Donna de Varona