Flag football: a sport where getting in the way is a useful skill

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.


Preparing for the snap in shotgun formation.

look it in

Going out for a pass. It’s not important whether or not he caught it.

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.

football hero

The next generation of football hero. Yup, we’re a regular pipeline of star recruits.


23 comments on “Flag football: a sport where getting in the way is a useful skill

  1. Gibber says:

    You never know he might go on to make millions and keep you in a nice seniors home. 😉

  2. Who knows, his skill at getting in the way could lead to untold millions.

  3. BunKaryudo says:

    I’m delighted to hear your son is so good at getting in the way. He may have to work at it a bit to get up to my level, though, since according to my wife I can get in the way even when I’m in another room. Of course, she might just be being nice.

  4. Jay says:

    He’s so tiny, how do you bear it? They sure do get them started young.

  5. Your son being a natural blocker. Hysterical! My son gets in the way all the time.

    My son (11 year old) wants to play football. Daddy finally came to the realization that soccer is not going to be either kids sports. They are both too small, and not runners. And running is kind of a crucial component of soccer. (just sayin’) – so we are finishing up soccer with our daughter. Not sure if she’ll play again, but our son always wanted to do tackle football (again he’ll be too short to play for long, but he’s thick) and football always was the same time as soccer. Now that he’s not playing soccer, we might look into the football thing. However, it’s such a commitment. And for a kid that hates any extra effort, putting on the whole pads/gear of football will probably be his downfall. In fact, does the U.S. have rugby anywhere? Cuz, I think that’s more up his alley.

    • Baseball perhaps? There’s a lot of standing still involved in that. And a thick kid might make a good catcher. How is he with prolonged squatting?

      • Been there, done that since he was 3-11. Our son was just diagnosed with DCD (Developmental Coordination Disorder) part of Dispraxia. What this means, as we kept paying for him to have special batting /throwing instruction by an ex-pro at $500 for 10 lessons, although he improved… he wasn’t improving at the rate of his peers… Now, we understand why he would do goofy things or be too slow. If they have him at short or 3rd, he’s not quick enough with his response. Always a second late- runners are now faster and beating his throws to 1st. He doesn’t react fast enough and run hard enough to shag fly balls in the outfield. Catchers they wanted the big, big guys that could quickly pop up and launch to 2nd. Gibby was actually a good catcher…but the coaches would never put him there. So, we couldn’t figure it out for the longest time. Now, we get it. As the kids are all advancing, Gib’s differences are more pronounced. He can play recreationally, but will always be the kid in right field and he doesn’t like that position. 😦

        It’s time to explore other options, sports that don’t require quick thinking. Like a football linesmen. slam into the guy in front of you. Protect you QB. Take out the guy with the football. Golf? Take time and line up your shot without have to race someone. (actually, golf is not a bad idea) 🙂

        • I don’t blame him for not wanting to be stuck out in right field. Who would want to be? I’m sure he’ll find a pursuit he can enjoy and excel at. There’s all kinds of stuff out there; it just might take a little patience to find the right thing.

  6. markbialczak says:

    Hooray for learning the hard way, Scott. Your big guy is meant for flag football. 🙂

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