Wednesday, October 13, 2010

0-0 is not a Scoreless Tie

It was a crisp Fall day in October.  There was a buzz in the crowd as Saturday afternoons are reserved for Pop Warner games in our hometown.  Usually the young kids start off first; eager 3rd graders looking for some validation after a long week of practice.  C is one of those kids.

They were facing a tough team, or so I heard, in Bridgewater, a town about an hour away.  They were wearing blood-colored uniforms that bespoke of their intensity.  It seemed like every one of those kids had been kept back, since this a third grade league and not an 8 or 9 year old team.  But our team would not be denied their second win of the season, it seemed.

They had a couple of tough games in the two weeks prior, losing to Hanover 16-0 two weeks ago and 22-0 last week.  I blamed a late night for that Hanover performance as all of the kids were introduced at halftime of the High School game.  With all of his friends around, it was a long night.  Marshfield, on the other hand, there really wasn't much of an excuse, although C played a good game with a couple of tackles and almost recovering a fumble.

"That was the best game you played!" I gushed at the end of the game as we were walking back to the car.

"No I didn't.  We lost, Dad." that's not the point, if everyone does their job and everyone tries hard, the team will always win.  I'm even creeping myself out with this rah rah BS.

But this afternoon was different.  I could tell that he was a different kid.  He seemed focused on the task at hand, even as he was downing waffles at a high rate of speed.  My wife also inspired C by telling him that he should imagine that he was tackling his Brother.  As he was sizing his brother up in the car on the way over, I thought it was ingenious, really.

The game started with little fanfare.  The teams kept trading blows and "three and outs" through most of the first half, but toward the end of the first half, things changed for the JMR household.  It was first down and the Bridgewater halfback started down the right side toward C.  Usually, C would engage the blocker, not move and clogg up the lane.  But this time, THIS TIME, he through the tackler out of the way, caught up to the runner and threw him to the ground.

"Tackle by #17, C!"  The PA announcer shouts as the couple hundred of people in the crowd cheer wildly for a great play, even if they don't know who the player was.  I wonder aloud if he could hear his name called.  On the next play, the now transformed nose guard made another tackle.

"Hey nice play, 17!"  I heard the coach yell.  Holy shit! Two plays in a row!  Now I hear a couple of murmurs in the crowd about the kid who was a head taller than everyone else on the field.  I forgot for a second that our team hadn't managed any plays for positive yardage yet in the game.  But who cares?  Bridgewater wasn't going to score either this game.  Naturally, the first half ended 0-0.

The second half played out the same way the end of the first half did.  Four more tackles, two more P.A. announcements calling his name out for the tackle.  And a couple of parents witnessing their child try hard and succeed.  Thankfully, his Grandmother saw the game too since she probably wouldn't have believed this kind of game (and she's kind of biased).  Maybe this was just an anomaly.  But for one of the few times that it can happen, it happened.  Sports mimicing and perhaps even transcending life for a little while.  At the end of the game, which ended up a 0-0 tie, we again found ourselves walking back to the car.

"Dad do you think I played good today?" He asked.

"You played great.  The best game I've seen anyone on your team play this year!"  I told him.  What I didn't tell him is that I had never been so proud of anything or anyone in my life. 

I can't wait for his next game.

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