This past month, as the days got shorter and the sun rose later, my 10-year old son got sadder and sadder. Getting off the bus on the last day of day camp he knew the first day of school was not far behind. Like many, he’s a kid that counts down to summer — all play, no books or enforced bedtimes. The thought that it would be over 250 days until the next summer vacation was just too much for him to bear.
I wasn’t sure when I would see his big broad smile again.
And then he heard the music and his eyes lit up. He says just those first few bars of the theme song send tingles down his spine. It is the bright spot of September for many and it can be summed up in just six words. ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?
With autumn’s arrival comes homework and tests, but it also brings tackles and touchdowns. Goodbye swimsuits, hello jerseys!
My dad was a big football fan. Every week he would place bets on the games with his friend Jeff. He would pour through the NY Daily News sports section looking at the games and the point spreads. Then on Sunday he would spend all day in front of the TV set screaming, shouting and basically losing his mind alongside my two brothers. If things didn’t go their team’s way they would be in a bad mood all night. I never really got the game or the obsession – it seemed like a time waste.
I married a man who seemed to enjoy football but not with the same intensity of my dad. He liked to watch but unless it was a big game, he didn’t make Sundays off limits for other plans. Things continued like this after we had our two daughters. Then our son arrived.
At first, it was a smart approach to parenting. With three kids, we divided and conquered on the weekends. Saturdays he was more than willing to take any of the sports obligations or party drives necessary for the girls. But on Sundays, he volunteered to stay home with the baby. I would find him on the couch “watching” the baby with a remote in one hand and the monitor in the other. Before I knew it, the baby turned into a toddler and joined his dad on the couch.
When my son was seven, NICKELODEON faded out and ESPN took over as his morning routine. Just like my dad, my son started pouring over stats and scores. But it was even more intense then just reading one newspaper cover to cover – technology made it a possible to devour sports 24/7. He begged my husband to order Red Zone so that could watch every game at the same time.
That same year, 2009, he fell in love with the Jets (the only year you could) as they went all the way to playoffs. Our good friend, a life long Jets fan, explained to him that this was not the “real” Jets that he was rooting for and that to be a Jets fan he would face much disappointment. And he has. There have been some teary Sunday nights and some hard bus rides Monday morning – surrounded by Giants fans. But now at age 11 he has discovered that fantasy teams soften the blow (which is why he has 3.)
With all the constant sports TV and talk, I myself have learned quite a bit about a sport I never really cared about. Recently I was talking football with my dad and he said he could not understand how I became such a sports fan when I always thought it was so silly and boring. I explained that I am still not a fan of sports, but I am a fan of my son. And if waking up and immediately checking the scores is a way to connect with him (and figure out what jerseys he will be willing to wear to school) I am happy to do it.
Am I ready for some football? You bet – I have the chips, salsa and tissue box waiting!