Posts Tagged ‘memories’

The True Meaning of Football . . . or Should That Be The True Meanings of Footballs?

November 9, 2008


A young friend of our acquaintance demanded of his father, “What was I born to be?”


“President of the United States?” asked his father, feigning innocence.


“No!” the kid declared, puffing out his seven-year old chest with absolute confidence.  “I was born to play football!”


For this particular kid, football is a challenge and a delight.  Even at the age of seven, he appears to be a rather gifted athlete.  So who knows: perhaps his dream of being a wide receiver for the New England Patriots could become a reality.


For Kaye’s brother, who had severe asthma throughout his childhood, football was more nightmare than dream.  His limited athletic ability had to be confined to escaping from the bullies who, like the poor, we have always with us.


For Kaye, being the robust sibling, going with her Dad to football games (he had been a star center at Flushing High School, and was a player/coach in the local semi-pro league during Kaye’s childhood) was a way to be closer to the father she adored.


So learning about football, understanding it, being able to discuss it with her father had a great payoff.  For Kaye, football will always be bound up with mostly wonderful, yet slightly painful memories of her father, who died while she was in high school.


Clearly, football has an emotional meaning that varies with the connection one has had to the game.


Bob was a high school quarterback, so football has just been a natural part of his life, as it so often is for the male of our species.  But boxing was his preferred sport, and anyway, he knew from early on that he wanted to be a singer.  So football was briefly fun to play, and remains fun to watch without being a dominant force in his life.


That is, football touches different lives in different ways.  It takes on different memories and different meanings.


There’s the kid who ached to make the football team, but couldn’t.  And there’s the co-ed who dated the quarterback.  And the co-ed who yearned to date the quarterback, but couldn’t.


And the kid who was working to become a concert violinist or a nuclear physicist and didn’t give a rat’s ass about football.


And the kid who was working to become a concert violinist or a nuclear physicist and played first-string varsity.  Or maybe was a cheerleader.


Anyway, the part – or lack thereof – that football plays early in our lives will usually have an effect on our feelings toward the game later in life.


But that’s only the first layer of The Meaning of Football.