The oldest son is playing soccer and flag football this year. This is his third year of soccer and first of organized football. Sports get pretty serious in 2nd grade. The soccer team uses a goalie now and there are actual refs on the field. It’s like the World Cup all of a sudden.
Being new to football, we can’t document the changes from 1st grade, though we learned a mouth guard is mandatory. This was a good lesson, and it came in handy when the boy had a face-on-face collision with a teammate during practice. We also learned the difference between soccer shoes and football shoes. When I was a boy, we had one kind of shoe; it was called a sneaker.
Football requires as much determined movement as soccer. This is unfortunate, since the boy uses up all his aggressive play on his little brothers. When it comes to sports with non-related children, he is a passivist.
He is also behind most of his teammates in experience, with a total of two lifetime practices under his belt. Yet he made the most of his practice time in the first game, handing the ball off twice without dropping it, and throwing one almost-complete pass.
But his finest moment was one that won’t show up in the stat sheets. He was playing the 2nd grade equivalent of Wide Receiver when the 2nd grade equivalent of Running Back ran a sweep to his side of the field. My boy threw a crucial block, allowing the runner to get around the corner for a long gain. Now, the 2nd grade equivalent of throwing a block is putting oneself in the way of the kid who is trying to rip the flag belt off your teammate, and I’m not sure my son did this on purpose or whether it was just another manifestation of his innate skill of being in the way, but it resulted in a long gain, so who cares?
All those times when, arms full of grocery bags, I tripped over him as he stooped to remove his shoes, just inside the doorway, paved the way for this wonderful moment. Just because I never played football beyond the playground doesn’t mean I’m not capable of coaching him up a little at home.
So, even though the kid may never develop into a star ball carrier or quarterback, I think there is potential for him in this game. I’ve never known a kid so talented at being in the way. As he proved on Sunday afternoon, being in the way is a vital component of the game of football. I’m not sure he’ll ever be large enough to get in the way professionally, but no one expects that.
As long as he enjoys doing it, whether he carries, throws, or catches the ball, or just puts himself in the way of the right player, we’ll cheer him on. I may even compliment him on his blocking practice next time I trip over him.