Every football game brings our family closer together. As someone who grew up in a small country town where Friday night football games were life and everyone lived for a reason to get together, I now understand why those football games were so much more than just a game.
They were home. They were a place where a town came together. Where parents sat in the bleachers proudly cheering on their children. Where kids lined the field, and the excitement was palpable by everyone. I can still remember what it felt like to be at a football game in my hometown. It was something our entire town looked forward to every Friday night.
The excitement and joy that came along with Friday night football games. The way each of her classmates cheered on their home team and rallied together. You could feel the excitement in the air. Again, it was a space for everyone to come together and create a sense of community. It was that feeling of home.
Families grilled in the parking lot before the game. Cars were decked out in school colors. Younger siblings played catch on the grass with a hand-me-down football, throwing the ball to their friends wearing oversized football jerseys, waiting for their moment to play for their high school’s team.
Each week, families gathered together, kids of all ages, excited to watch the action and cheer on the kids in their community. It didn’t have to be their own kid–on Friday nights, those kids were everyone’s kids. Everyone was there for one common purpose. For the love of the game, and all that came with it.
As my son aged into flag football, I remember the excitement my husband felt.
The way he reminisced about what football did for him, and how he longed for our son to feel the same way. The values and sense of team it instilled in him. When our son said he wanted to play, I could almost feel my husband’s excitement radiating off of him. He was ready to show our son the game and I was ready to experience what it felt like to cheer him on from the sidelines. Our whole family was ready.
My husband decided he was the one who wanted to coach our son, which in no way surprised me. I’m pretty sure I was just as excited as he was. As a child, I was fortunate enough to have my dad coach me, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. I learned so much in those years and I have so much gratitude for my dad doing that. It couldn’t have been easy.
It’s really so amazing to watch as my son learns from his dad, all the things I learned from my dad. The bonds you make with your teammates, the sense of character that is built upon and developed. The fact that your team really does become your family. I was so excited for my son to learn all these things, and to watch that learning happen right before my eyes.
He knew he was a good player and also, he knew he needed to make sure everyone was able to play–because building a child up was what was important to him. He wanted the kids to have fun and know that they were an important part of the team. We know how important it is for our kids to have adults in their lives encouraging them every step of the way. It was so beautiful to watch my husband step right into that role.
My husband created a tiny community of little humans that cheered each other on and looked out for one another. As the season went on, you could see it all so clearly. It wasn’t just happening to the kids. It was also happening to the parents.
Through football, the parents were able to connect with one another. Maybe even with families they otherwise wouldn’t know. The parents could make plans with one another, and work to continue growing the strong teammate bonds off the football field, too. While what happens on the field is important, it’s what happens off the field that can lead to some really well-rounded friendships that extend beyond the endzone, and beyond the football season.
You see, football has a way of bringing everyone together. It leads to friendships that can last a lifetime–for the players, and for their families. It builds character and shows our children what it feels like to be part of a team. That when one person wins, we all win.
While we may play flag football, there are other types of football you can enroll your child in. As my son ages, we will move up into tackle football–if he desires. The way it looks right now, we’re going to be a football family for a long time, and I’m not sad about it.