Sunday, November 04, 2007

Could that be me?

Friday night the kids and I walked over to the university stadium to see the high school's final home football game. By the time we got there the Tigers were already hopelessly behind. We stood down by the endzone, the kids perched up on the rail and me standing behind them. Pretty much the whole second quarter got played right there in front of us as our team struggled without success to get out of their own end of the field and the other team kept scoring touchdowns. Standing right beside us were three very vocal middle aged men who energetically warned the players on the field and the coaches on the sidelines about breaking developments. The weird thing was that being as close to the field and sidelines as we all were and with the crowd generally quiet and subdued owing to the one sided nature of the game, everything these three men yelled was plainly audible to players, coaches and refs.
"Get a play in! Come on! Get a play in!" Each broadcast was typically followed by murmuring elaborations among the three men over what they had witnessed and in some cases tried in vain to forestall.
Tess was intrigued by their behavior. Yelling one moment, murmuring amongst themselves the next only to explode once again a moment later. She stared at them and then at me, smiling as if to say, "Are they crazy?"
I smiled back at her.
"He's hurt! Get a new quarterback in there! (Why don't they get somebody in there?) He's hurt! Get a sub in there!" (Ah, finally...why do they take so long...when we played, somebody was ready to come in.)
"Call timeout! Call timeout! (Can you believe this. How much time is left?) Why don't you call timeout?" (You tell me what they're thinking about.)
"Come on now!" (He should a cut the other way - touchdown....yep, he doesn't have the experience.... or the vision.)
(Oh baby, that hurt.) "Injury! (He's hurt.) Stay down! Don't get up!" (He's gettin' up. I always told my guys to take your time gettin' up.)
"Get your head in the game!" (These guys can't make a play. ..You got to make a play if you want to win.)
I watched the men. They were oblivious to our stares even though we were only five feet away. They seemed to believe that their alarms and encouragements were instrumental to the actions and decisions being made down on the field. Neither the coaches in front of us on the sidelines nor the players behind them or the ones on the playing field gave any indication that they were listening, even though everything the men said was clearly in earshot. Yet the men carried on energetically, fervently, as if something important were at stake.
It was odd...sort of like watching a silent movie with an accompanying audio track of the subtitles being shouted in your ears.
For my part, I tried to interest Tess and Colm in a few of the visible and obvious aspects of the game. I pointed out where the ball was and which color team had it and which direction they were trying to go. I told them about running the ball and tackling the runner. Colm mistook the term "tackle" for "attack" and comented often on how players were attacking the one the one with the ball. I didn't correct him. The kicking game was fun to watch because they enjoyed tracking the long high arc of the ball and then the helter skelter of the return. There was one run that came right towards us and ended in loud collision with about five players piled on top of the runner. It was a bit like witnessing a car accident right up close. Colm looked up at me, his eyes wide with wonder.
"When I get big, am I going to play football?" he asked me. I looked at him and realized how at the age of four he sensed that out there in the external world there were salient clues as to who he might be someday. Running through his mind always, the question, could that be me?
"Maybe you'll play football, Colm," I said and then I heard a sound coming from the other end of the stadium. "Or maybe you'll play in the band."
We looked down the sidelines and saw the marching band assembled in the far end zone. They were preparing to take the field. They were respendent in their blue uniforms and their instruments glittered in the crisp dark night air.
"Look they have two white tubas!" said Tess.
Tess and Colm both jumped off the rail and headed toward the band. "Come on!" they shouted to me.
I left the muttering men and followed my children.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go LHS Tiger Marching Band!

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the part about Colm looking around for clues as to who he might become. This is stuff I've never thought about- so thanks for sharing these little moments with us! Big hugs to all four of you.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Krista said...

Colm can do both. Peter did when he was at La Grande High. We have a photo in our "Hallway of Fame" of Peter, dressed in his football uniform with a tuba wrapped around him, marching with the band during half-time.

6:26 PM  

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