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Friday Night Lights

One of the not-on-the-official-agenda activities I did this past weekend was go to the movie “Friday Night Lights” with my hotel roommate and friend, Stacee. We went Friday night, after the first session ended. Our search for Starbucks was halted when Stacee saw the big yellow United Artists theater sign a few blocks away. We chose the movie based on two factors: #1, it was starting at that very moment, and #2, the other movie that was starting at that time was a horror movie called “The Grudge”, apparently about a dark, frightening room in a house that is filled with old newspapers, bikes with flat tires, a broken upright freezer, and items for a yard sale that we all know will never really happen…oh wait, I am thinking of “The Garage”…

“Friday Night Lights” is based on a book of the same name, written by H.G. Bissinger. It is about the stranglehold high school football holds on the culture, the boys, the families, and the entire town of Odessa, Texas. Growing up in a smallish town, I could identify with some of the things in the movie–the excitement of Friday night football, the importance and pride that a winning football team brought to the school and community, and the ways that football players were treated–a strange mix of being on a pedestal and being enslaved, at the same time. What a hard burden for a 17 year old boy to carry–the entire hopes and dreams of a town pinned on your letter jacket.

Naturally, I started thinking of my own boys and wondering if they will want to play football.

I think Ryley will be the kicker. With his big feet and impeccable aim (let’s just say I don’t have to clean up after him in the bathroom very often), kicker seems like a great position for him.

Sammy would be great in any position that would allow him to showboat and invent a touchdown dance–perhaps wide receiver, like Ed Mc Caffrey, who did McDonald’s commercials as well. Yes, it sounds perfect for Sammy.

Who likes to bark orders? Who has the million-dollar smile? Who has the used-car lot, runs for Senate, and gets the girl? The Quarterback! This position would fit Tommy like a helmet.

Since Joel just turned one, his place on my dream football team isn’t yet cemented. But if I had to guess, it would be a 300 pound lineman who can drink a gallon of milk at one sitting (straight out of the “jug”), rarely speaks except in grunts and chuckles, and sleeps with his teddy bear every night. That’s my baby!

I cannot leave my only daughter, Aidan, out of the football fantasy. She will not be a cheerleader. She will be the color commentator on “Monday Night Football”, with an opinion on everything and an unlimited clothing and hairspray budget.

It is fun to sit here and dream about the future. But part of me is scared to let them play football. The injuries, the social aspects, the cost, the pressure to win, the smelly socks, the jock straps, the smelly socks, the grass stains, the smelly socks, the dirty cleats, travel expenses, medical expenses, the milk bill, the Tide with Bleach bill, and the smelly socks–all conspire in a big testosterone-laden whirl of doom in my mind’s eye.

I suppose that if they truly want to play football, and show talent, we should support their choice as much as we can. I know that each of our kids has their own special gifts and talents. It would be shameful if we stood in the way of those gifts and talents. I hope we are wise enough to guide the kids in exploring where their talents lie, and that we have the resources to help them.

When people ask how we are going to be able to send all our kids to college, I answer: “scholarships!” I am only half-joking…

Ryley, keep up the good aim! Sammy, catch! Tommy, throw your banana peel in the trash, for once! Joel…here is your teddy bear!

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