Yes, professional football has problems:
- preposterous sums of money
- (maybe not per their talent or risks, but in contrast to sums for those who educate or save lives)
- concussions and other lifelong health impacts
- too many darn flags, timeouts, & commercials disrupting game flow
- certain personalities immaturely flaunting the ‘I’ and ‘me’ in socIal MEdia
- (over the character-building aspects of true sportsmanship)
But I still love it. It’s not just that I’m a lifelong, Terrible Towel-owning Steeler’s fan who loves the team’s impressive string of rings, the Tomlin Era, and the timeless integrity of the owners. And it’s not because my dad often was mistaken for QB Terry Bradshaw in his heyday. That’s team loyalty. I actually love the whole overblown behemoth of ballers for what their presence did for my dad this season.
Dad was very ill this past September and is not well now (related reasons). During his hospitalization Dad suffered extreme sleep deprivation while coping with a dangerous, unruly offensive line of disorienting health issues. What grounded him? Football.
Watching the game -any game (college, too, actually) – was an island of normal in a sterile, psychically-exhausting setting. Grogginess? Fever? Cough? The strange ways lack of sleep play with the mind? When the ball was snapped, these bugaboos faded just enough for Dad to feel like, well…Dad. We’d chat about the current play, the players, the 9 billion flags, and the endless commercials. It was these interactions, this unified focus on a leisure-time activity that (mostly) played by predictable rules, that took both of us out of the wrong kind of ‘red zone.’ Familiar playbooks beget victories, small and large.
Sure, there are other cultural touchstones or important personal milestones that could’ve helped out. But watching football – ubiquitous Monday-Thursday-Saturday (college)-Sunday football – was like pulling in a wide open pass despite poor conditions.
Dad has had quite a season. As it turns out his stats aren’t great right now. There may just be a Hail Mary or a goal line stand coming his way. There’s still some time on the clock. He’s home now. So we’ll relax on the couch (yes, lots of naps included…at least his insomnia is gone) and enjoy familiar, fantastic and even frustrating moments watching the guys on the gridiron grind it out.
Sharing this essay with students? Here are some follow up options:
- Choose a sport and a family member or friend. Write 350 words to explain why this person matters to you. Use the chosen sport to add depth to the explanation either via direct experiences or to inspire metaphors for your connection.
- Look at a television line up. ‘Prescribe’ two shows for somebody stuck at home with the flu or chicken pox. Write/design a proper prescription form – and include WHY each show is prescribed (e.g. the symptoms it will ease or cure). Now prescribe for somebody laid up with a broken leg or surgery that temporarily impacts mobility.
- What else is football good for? As a group, team or individual, list the ABCs of What Football Fixes. Be sure you can justify each item (no ’empty place holders’ for the hard letters).
image credit: PSD Covers