Meet the Spartans – or not

On Tuesday, my family picked me up after work on the way to Meet the Spartans. This is a public event for families to shake hands and get autographs from members of our pre-season Top Ten ranked football team.

Arriving at the stadium, we waited in line for some free football posters, full of plenty of white space for autographs.

There were other family-friendly activities at the event. These lines were shorter than the autograph lines, so we decided to knock them off first. The autograph lines would still be there afterwards.

We got our picture taken with the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl trophies from the last two years. Then we got some awesome pics of the boys in full gridiron regalia.

2030 Heisman

He looks the part, but judging by his failure to pick his way through holes in the crowd, he’s going to need a good blocker in front of him.

Posing for pictures makes football stars hungry. Since the concessions were being offered much cheaper than can be had at an actual football game, our next mission was to stand in line to get the kids pizza and fries. Watching the kids eat made the parents hungry. Another bout of standing in the food lines left everyone fortified and ready to go grab some autographs.

But first the boys had to visit the spirit tent and pick out some officially licensed merchandise to need desperately. It’s nice they have team spirit, but until they get jobs their foremost loyalty belongs to Team Family Finances.

One of the boys noticed people going down to the field. We couldn’t miss that opportunity, and worked our way through the crowd to a little, roped-off, paved strip, about five feet wide, behind the end zone. We milled about there, each boy tempting authority by letting the toe of his shoe creep over the pavement onto actual football field grass.

Introducing your 2033 Heisman Trophy winner.

Introducing your 2033 Heisman Trophy winner.

Having toe-kissed the grass, it was time to go snag some autographs. On the way, we learned that if we hurried, we could go upstairs and check out the coaches’ booth and the press box. We scurried for the elevator and went up eight floors to the press level. It was an amazing view, even from the window opposite the field; we could make out the dome of the State Capitol.

As we explored the press area, Mommy found a wireless phone charger. Being a tireless devotee of cellular communication, she had to figure out how it worked with her phone. I chased the kids around the press box for a while, returning to find her the unofficial demonstrator of the device to the curious and the low-batteried.

Coming downstairs, we found we’d cleverly outwaited the autograph lines. They were down to nothing, mostly because the players had gone. But we still had some nice posters. Nobody came out of there with posters fresher than ours.

How many autographs did we get?


How many players did we even see?


But we ate like superstars, we touched extra special grass, and we charged our phone like we owned the place.

It was a pretty special day for young hearts.



Football, putting the kids to bed, and other rough sports

My boys are too young to know much about sports, but they do have an eerie sense for knowing when my interest in what’s on TV has intensified. Something in their childhood instincts alerts them that Daddy wants to watch the game, and they know it’s time to go feral.

My sports season runs from fall to spring, headlined by football and basketball and seasoned with a sprinkling of hockey. Summer has its baseball, and occasionally the Olympics, but those don’t get me psyched up to watch them on TV, which is why my kids are relatively quiet during this period. Daddy can watch all the reruns and reality shows he wants in peace. As it turns out, he doesn’t really want to watch any.

The baby was born in spring, at the end of the sports season. Until recently, he has been a remarkably quiet, contented infant. Through the whole summer, he has been all smiles and giggles. His deep thoughts have been interrupted by tears only for the most sensible reasons. That was the off-season baby.

Scene at football game in early 1900s

With these new wide-screen TVs it’s almost like you’re right there at the game.

When I sat down to watch the first big football game of the year, the baby’s long-dormant sensors fired. Suddenly, I had a loud and proud infant, in mid-season form. He began to whoop and holler, cry and whine, like the most notorious of his breed. Then came the four-alarm diaper blowout.

His big brother joined him in his antics, putting on a show of his most distracting and annoying behavior. The normal consequence of this display would have been for him to go to bed early. On this evening, early would be in the middle of the second quarter. I’d have to endure him until halftime.

Halftimes are too short for parents battling the delaying tactics of preschoolers at bedtime. From having to pee, but not until after several minutes of standing at the potty, to trouble with the tooth brush, everything took longer than the eons it takes at normal bedtimes. Of course, the book he selected for his bedtime story was a nice thick one, with paragraphs and everything.

Third quarters are overrated anyway.

At least I didn’t have to put the baby to bed. Mommy would see to that, when he was good and ready to settle down and be put to bed. For the time being, he was really into this football game. His passion was so intense that his deafening crying could hardly be eased by either parent.

Eventually, the baby wore himself out  and accepted the call of slumber. I think the game was over by then, but I find it difficult to remember. I don’t remember much about the game at all.

I hope my boys grow up to be ardent sports fans. Enjoying sports may eventually grow to become an experience that we can share. More importantly, when I am old and senile, and no longer know or care who’s playing, I plan to cling to just enough reality to go to their houses during Super Bowls and Final Fours and blow up my Depends undergarments like Armageddon.

Buxom woman holding football

My problem may be that I am not enough of an imposing figure. Nobody gives Big Bertha any guff when she tells the fellas to simmer down so she can watch the ballgame in peace.