My son had his first varsity football scrimmage of his career yesterday. To say that it was a wet affair is an understatement. We sat in the stands for almost two hours trying to watch him in sheets of driving rain. It was a warm rain so really it wasn’t too bad. We had umbrellas and ponchos but thanks to the tropical depression that dumped multitudes of rain all over Texas we were soaked to the bone. Umbrellas couldn’t withstand the force of the wind so they were of little help.
But despite the rain my heart was full to get to see him participate in sports with his classmates. You see, my son is gifted in many areas – makes great grades, is a Christian and never a discipline problem – but athletic he is not.
Living in Texas is hard when you’re not athletically gifted. We thrive on Friday Night Football as well as other high school sports. They are not only valuable to us for “braggin’ rights” but they are a way that the community comes together. We have folks of all ages and classes at our high school sporting events.
When my son was in elementary he suffered a blow that really damaged his self-esteem. When going into the 4th grade he was the ONLY boy in is grade that was kept in the Pee Wee Division of Little League rather than getting to play in the next step up. It really hurt him and thus, we were hurt, too. We tried to reason with the folks on the Little League Board by meeting with them and telling them that it was unfair to single out one kid just because he wasn’t as good at baseball as the others. We wanted him to play baseball with the other boys in his class – to attend their baseball sleep-overs and swimming parties but he didn’t get to do those things. He did have fun with the boys in the grades below him but it wasn’t the same.
In junior high he suffered yet another terrific blow to his self-esteem when one of the junior high football games yelled out that two of the better players were doing so badly that they were even making my son look good! Yes, a teacher was responsible for this – just like the people on the Little League Board were teachers in our school system.
Then last year, my son’s junior year in high school, he was the only junior left back on the Junior Varsity. All the others were on the Varsity squad. It was almost the final blow for a young man who loved sports but just wasn’t very good at them. I was proud of him because he stuck it out on the JV squad all last year – he had a great time and played almost every down of every game. Yet, the sting was still there for him every Friday night when all his friends were playing to the hometown crowd’s cheers – but he wasn’t.
Now it’s finally his turn. A senior in high school and finally on the Varsity Squad. He might not get to play much but yesterday at the scrimmage he did just as good as anyone else.
But I still think the damage may be done. You can tell it in the way he carries himself – there’s not much self-assurance there. We prop his ego up every chance we get – on a daily basis. We tell him all the time how great he is and how proud of him we are. But sometimes the approval of your peers and other outsiders means more than what your own parents say. At any rate – he is my football hero – he’s stayed true to his game, not backing out, not quitting – and that is as good as a touchdown!