I Miss Being a Football Mom

Jill Duke

For the first time in about nine years I am not a football mom....and I miss it.  

Our philosophy on sports with our sons (at least our two oldest....we got too old and tired to follow through on this with our youngest) was that they needed to try to play each major sport for at least one season to see if they liked playing.  If they absolutely hated it, we wouldn't make them play the next year.  Our oldest tried football for a couple of seasons and decided it wasn't for him.  Our middle son, Ethan, did not want to play football, but because of our little sports philosophy we made him try flag football at the age of 7... and he loved it.  Every year since then he has played football. 

We were happy.  Ethan was made for football.  Our son has always been one of the biggest kids in his class.  He is tall, solid, and strong.  We had dreams of college scholarships and NFL careers (like all of us delusional parents do).  Although it took a while for Ethan to adjust to playing the game (he was a timid kid and didn't want to hurt anybody) we knew he would get the hang of it.  Each season was really fun.  Honestly, both my husband and I didn't know a ton about football as far as the rules are concerned, so we enjoyed learning more about the game along with Ethan.  We enjoyed sitting in the stands and cheering on our boy.  Most of Ethan's best friends also played, so we enjoyed watching all of the boys play together.  Football teams, at least the ones Ethan has played on, really try to create a culture of being a family, so playing football felt like being a part of a family.

Flash forward and we make it to Freshman year of high school.  Finally, we are to the point where football is going to be super fun.  It wasn't that football wasn't fun all the previous years, because it definitely was, but that was kiddie football.  Now it was time for big boy football!  All the years of sitting through practices and driving all over creation to play with his travel team was finally going to pay off.  We will get to see him play under the Friday night lights!  Make it through Freshman season, and then Sophomore year the varsity team will surely need him on the offensive line.  Play hard and then who knows?  Maybe a college scholarship isn't out of the question.

Freshman season was very successful, but also drifted into basketball season, which is Ethan's true passion.  Of course because of our sports philosophy we made our boys try basketball too and Ethan was in love.  We thought this kid loved football, but that pales in comparison to his love for basketball.  He seriously never gets tired of playing.  Because the end of football and the beginning of basketball overlap, Ethan had to miss out on a lot of the pre-season basketball workouts.  He did not end up making the school basketball team.  He shrugged it off and said he didn't care, but I know it bothered him.  Because of his size and stature, everyone has always told Ethan football was his game, but in Ethan's mind, he is made for basketball.

In the Spring of Freshman year, football workouts started and Ethan attended faithfully.  Then one day I picked him up from practice, and out of the blue Ethan told me he didn't want to play football anymore.  What?!?  Are you kidding me?  Of course you want to play football -- you've always played football.

"Mom, it's not fun anymore.  It hasn't been fun for a long time.  I've stuck with it because I didn't want to disappoint you and dad, and I'll keep playing if you want me to, but I really don't want to play anymore. I'd rather just focus on basketball."  Ouch.  

Had my poor baby been playing football all these years just because my husband and I loved it so much?  After asking him a million questions about whether he just didn't like the coaches or if something had happened to make him want to quit, I started to look at things from Ethan's perspective.  Football was hard on his body.  He broke his wrist/forearm during football practice in his 8th grade year.  He started having neck pain, headaches, and stomach problems after workouts started during his Freshman year.  Because of his size, he had always had to play lineman positions, which is pretty boring.  I think in his mind he felt like Football messed up his chances of making the basketball team.  He was just over it.  I couldn't blame him.

Long story short, Ethan is no longer a football player and has focused all of his time and energy improving his basketball game.  I miss picking him up from football practice.  I miss sitting in the stands cheering him on.  I miss feeling like part of the football family.  Even though I miss it, it isn't about me.  Basketball workouts start Tuesday and he'll get to take part this time.  Even if he doesn't make the school team, he'll still get to play AAU ball and spend time participating in the sport he is passionate about.  I'm totally cool with being a basketball mom, and if basketball doesn't end up working out, I'm fine with that too.  I'm cool just being Ethan's mom.  That is more than enough.

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  • Shelley Summers on

    I hope Ethan read this. He should be proud your his mom. :)

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