Tackle football obviously raises a red flag in many parents minds, rightfully so. So many questions, right? Here is my take on the oh so busy, intense, fun, rough and tough season.
L started playing flag football when he was five. The games were filled with dads teetering on the edge of losing their patience while they would physically carry the five year olds around on the field and plop them into different positions. The kids would run off stem and dive for flags and enjoy snack time at the end more than the game itself (ok that doesn’t change in tackle either) and it was the perfect thing to do on a fall weekend.
L played flag for two more years and guess what? Those little five year olds started getting bigger and started getting faster and started getting rougher. Diving for flags meant basically actually kind of tackling without really knowing how. I saw more concussions during flag than I did during our season of tackle football. In fact, I actually saw no concussions at all during tackle this year. Thankfully!
Look, I’m not saying tackle football is safe. But tackle football, at this level, is pretty darn safe. The kids are so weighed down with pads and equipment and helmets that even the fastest of kids kind of look….slow(er).
But let’s back up a bit here. The season training begins the first week of August. Yep, just about a week after the baseball season ends. Hold me. And August becomes basically just about that. Four nights a week we’d drive to town with three goofy nine year olds and one silly three year old. I don’t think I’ve ever been entertained more and would teeter back and forth between laughing so hard I was almost crying to threatening to pull over if the word ‘butt’ was uttered one. more. time.
Yet, we’d finally make it to town and the boys trained with their awesome coaches and got sweaty and came home at the end of the hot summer nights totally exhausted and, of course, starving. Enter mom. I loved having his pajamas laid out for him and his second dinner ready to be devoured. That is, once he got out of his gear. I so wish we recorded that first attempt of me getting him geared up. Completely ridiculous. I have to say that now though? I am quite the pro.
And just like that it was game time! The season started off strong and the games were oh so fun and read this – fast. Oh my goodness coming from the world of baseball where the games can drag on, these moved at lighting speed. And they weren’t scary! Look, if anyone would be scared by a sport it would be me and I was not. Promise. I quickly learned if a kid was down, that they keep them down much longer just out of precaution. It would have been nice to know this when L was down once (the same time B came running to be with a bloody egg on his forehead from diving off a wall) and my heart sort of split and stopped. It’s hard because you can’t run out there to question what is going on. I assumed he hurt his head for how long he was down but after the game while munching away on Doritos he explained to me he just scraped his elbow.
In fact L’s biggest ‘injury’ came from the (mild?) sport of baseball. At first base he took a hard throw from third base smack to the head. (Hon, please pay attention when hard balls are being thrown around by big children). Had to kill so bad and he was out for awhile with ice and I was googling ‘signs of a concussion’ endlessly for the next 48 hours.
Yet back to the football. So the games are fast and fun and not scary. All good things. We had a winning season ending just short of the Superbowl with a record of 7-3. Not bad at all. I thought the coaching was excellent and yes….intense. I recall one game where the boys literally played like they hadn’t slept or eaten in 48 hours (they had) and the coaches pulled them waaaaaaay aside during half time (read out of mom’s ear range) and, well, it did not seem like it was all sunshine and roses and unicorns. It can be intense but that sort of comes with the territory of the sport. It’s football. Football is an in your face, rough, tough, loud sport. A huge change from the quieter intense that comes with baseball but we embraced it. And it didn’t seem to phase L at all.
Will he play again? It’s funny how him and his carpool buddies would say they are ‘never playing football again’ when headed to practice but yet can’t wait for game days and pretty much play football in the yard every chance they get. Makes sense though. Who likes to train? M and I could not have been more happy with L’s progress throughout the season and it was hands down the most extreme difference we’ve experienced with him in a sport in a single season. You could actually see the physical change – he got stronger, leaner, faster. Coordination improved. All great things that are so wonderful for a nine year old boy to develop!
I have to say, I will miss the silly carpools. I will miss getting in our red jerseys for game day and cheering them on. I will miss the starving sweaty boy barreling into the mudroom at the end of a long practice yelling ‘mom I’m home!’ I will miss the silly half time dances and the smiles when they win and the tears when they lose and B thinking he is part of the team. It’s all good and was a wonderful thing for our whole family to experience together. When the season was officially over L spent a few good hours in this position.
I’m pretty sure the tears were more about it all ending as opposed to losing the play off game. So here’s to next year, #9 – GO BRONCOS!