Anyone who knows me, has knocked on my front door or has followed me on Twitter knows I love baseball. I love the San Francisco Giants and I’m pretty passionate about the game.
Only those who’ve known me for a long time know that I used to be even more passionate about football. I was a 49er freak. I even had earrings I wore every Sunday (except when the Niners were on Monday Night Football). I have 49er stuff dating back to Super Bowl XVI. I have 1984 Commemorative Coca Cola bottles and a photo of me and Ronnie Lott circa 1986.
I scheduled my weekends around the 49ers schedule.
But that changed when I became a mom in 1998. Pregnancy hormones had me noticing the injuries more than the intensity of the game. Hard hits were now a cause of concern instead of celebration. Concussions were just beginning to be taken more seriously. Or maybe I was just noticing because I was now responsible for a baby boy, and every one of those players the field have a mother somewhere. Worrying about them.
Sure, I still watched on Sundays, but not glued to the TV. Mostly because I was too busy chasing a very active boy around. Picking up hundreds of balls from every corner of our house. Small, round baseballs were easier for a young toddler to pick up and instinctively throw.
Baseball was a more family friendly sport. We took our baby to a SF Giants game when he was three months old. He was sixteen months old when we went to our last game at Candlestick Park and Robb Nen threw a ball into the stands. The fan who caught it gave it to our son and he started to throw it back, but we stopped him. We still have the ball.
He played t-ball while his baby brother played on the grass nearby. He moved up through Little League and his brother started playing too. Our family went to two Major League Giants games and about thirty Little League Giants games in 2010. Life was good.
Then my oldest boy discovered football. I blame his first t-ball coach. He coached the middle school flag football team and thought my son would be a good player.
He wasn’t at first. But then he played every game his 8th grade year, and was hooked. He went out for the Freshman team but didn’t have much playing time. He worked during the offseason going to weight training and extra skills practice. He earned enough “Commitment Club” points to be fitted with a new helmet and made JV Captain this year.
He started as Outside Linebacker and special teams. He was having the time of his life.
Until I showed up at practice early one day. I found him sitting on the sidelines with a bag of ice on the back of his neck. I asked him what happened and he couldn’t tell me. Coach came over to talk to me. My son didn’t remember the hit he made on a teammate. He didn’t remember practice or school that day. He had a concussion.
Three weeks later and a CT scan, two rounds of concussion testing and much debate between his father and me, he returned to play.
He didn’t have his best game, missing a couple of tackles early, but he played. He got up every time and when I looked into his eyes after the game, I was satisfied that he was ok.
But the game isn’t the same anymore. Every time a player is slow getting up, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Even if it’s not my boy, it’s somebody’s baby.
There is so much I love about my son being on the football team. The “Commitment Club” that rewards players for working hard, going above and beyond what is required. They are rewarded for getting good grades, working in the community, and pushing themselves to improve on their last times or their last lifts. The discipline, teamwork and camaraderie are going to last him beyond high school.
I just hope the memories are going to be the only things that last beyond high school.
That and the videos of them performing as cheerleaders for the girls Powder Puff game.