It’s not just a game

Last Saturday we were watching the A&M game with some friends…eating burgers, drinking sodas, sharing alternating moments of raucous laughter, anxiety, confusion and whatnot. I don’t know what I said (I’m sure it was edifying), but whatever it was prompted their 6-year-old daughter to look my way as she said this: It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. It’s just a game.

First of all, I don’t know why she looked at me, because of the four adults in the room, there were at least 2 who were more worked up than I was. And secondly, I don’t know where she heard that kind of crazy talk. Probably from Michelle Obama on one of those ads they air on the Disney Channel.

Clearly, it does matter, and it is not “just a game.”

Would people set aside all of Saturday and most of Sunday afternoon if winning didn’t matter? Would there be press conferences, polls, rankings, blogs, scholarships and drafts for just a game? Would I be hunched over in my living room with my hands on my knees saying, “Aaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy gig ’em, Aggies!” at kickoff time?

It must be so confusing for an impressionable kid. It’s confusing for me, and I’m…older than 6. ESPN says, “Johnny needs to learn it’s not all about him.” Then they show a 10-minute segment that’s all about him, and devote a significant portion of every broadcast to him. When you lose, you need to care more. When you win, you need to care less. And on and on the contradictions go. It’s dizzying, really.

I don’t want to single out the Disney Channel and ESPN. Wait, that’s a lie. Yes, I do. But it’s List Wednesday, and I think we can all admit that we do the same thing on various levels. Consider these contradictions:

When I was in high school, I was in the band.
Watching football game: *expert
No offense, former band members. This isn’t really about you; it’s to point out that, when it comes to sports, everyone thinks they’re an expert. From a bleacher seat on the 3rd deck, a living room couch, or the broadcaster’s booth, we know what’s up, and we know it better than the people on the actual field.

No, I’m not going to play catch with you. It’s too hot to be outside.
Attending football game: Stop complaining. It’s not that hot.
It’s all relative. We’ll pay big bucks to endure a heat index of 104, and bundle up with a parka and cheesehead hat when it’s 12 degrees.

No, I’m not going to buy you that Pez dispenser. Put it back.
Attending football game: *pays $22 for a drink in a souvenir cup and a corn dog
Not that those corn dogs aren’t delicious…

There is no ‘I’ in TEAM.
After your kid’s football game: That coach doesn’t know what he’s doing. We would have won that game if they played you more.
This topic could be a whole blog post in and of itself. Oh wait, it was. I remember now… The bleachers made you do it.

You need to respect authority.
During football game: *gets mad and questions coach and/or officials every play in which opponent succeeds
If our kids shouted out “Hey, teacher, where’d you get that degree? Wal-Mart?” from their desks in Algebra class, we would be horrified. No, there is a time and a place to publicly berate someone’s job performance, and that, children, is during a sporting event.

Calm down! No yelling in the house.
Football game on TV: *yells in house

What are some other ways sports tempt you to contradict the lessons you want to teach your kids?

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Kathy Howard

Just this morning during a news story about the long term affects of head injuries in football I said to my husband: “Football is just so violent.” Yet during every game I watch you can hear me yelling something like: “Get him! Stop him! Knock him off his feet!” Good grief!

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