I was raised by wolves-no-not really, but I was raised by a whole clan of artists, which meant that while I know all the words to “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General,” struggled (unsuccessfully) through eight long years of piano lessons, can tell a Fragonard from a Sargent, (without reading the little sign,) can quote Shelley, Yeats, Shakespeare and dissolve into absolute raptures over e.e. cummings’ poetry, to me, football was a re-enactment of Jason’s Symplegades adventure in which human heads were substituted for the clashing rocks. The sport remained a complete mystery, and like many who desire to bury their ignorance in the cat box of disdain, I developed an annoying, elitist attitude about the sport. My friends teased me about it, and my husband tried in vain to disabuse me of my snobbery, but for many years, I embraced my ignorance.
However. . .
Last night, I bounced up and down on my snow-covered, steel bleacher seat, screaming madly, following every play of my son’s football game. The teams were tied until the final three seconds. As our players prepared to try for the field goal, I noticed I had a mouthful of blue and gold plastic strands. I was so nervous that I was chewing on my pom-pom. (I had a pom-pom, or at least part of one now.) The kick was good! I yelled so much I couldn’t catch my breath. Our boys would advance to the State Championship. Go Hornets!
So, this post is a bit of a mid-life Bildungsroman. What changed me? The importance of sports in creating community has been well documented, but it wasn’t until community members invited my children to play sports that I realized how galvanizing sports teams can be not only for a group of young players, but also for the extended family that surrounds the team, including the band, the cheerleaders (though I still don’t entirely understand cheerleading, and I probably never will), the parents, the retired folks from the community who come out to drink coffee out of styrofoam cups and jaw about teams from the past twenty years. I love the way the little kids dart through the crowd, and how you can look around and see a mom biting her bottom lip with nervous pride when her child takes the field.
This morning, my son told me that he saw me in the stands, cheering, and that I looked like I was, "turning into a real mom--one with friends." Translating from the 16-year-old-dialect, he was saying that he was proud of me and glad I was there and part of the festivities.
So I’m a convert, and I am sorry for my previous benighted attitude. Our communities are richer when they honor both arts and sports, and I am extremely proud of my son, not only for his choir concerts, but also for his tackles.