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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on September 21st, 2016, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 17, Issue 29 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 17, Issue 29

Friday night lights

Krider will cling to whatever high school football nostalgia he can get

By ROB KRIDER

The day my son was born, fat and screaming as he was forced out of the safety of his mother’s body, I hoped one day he would grow up to be a football player. During the first year outside of his mother’s womb, he was on track for football since he was quite fat. He wasn’t big-boned or husky, he was actually big-time fat, like people would stop us in the grocery store and have to comment on how fat our baby was. My wife, whom I love, beamed every time someone mentioned how big our son was and told anyone who would listen, “He’s just a healthy, breastfed little boy.”

I didn’t feel the need to inform total strangers our son was breastfed. I was just glad he was big. I imagined him maturing into a defensive lineman, smashing through fools half his size, and squashing quarterbacks on the way to a state football title. I would be so proud. I couldn’t wait until he was in high school. I even saw myself possibly coaching the team to help improve his skills and thus improve his chances of gettting a college scholarship.

I wanted all of this for my son because I have my own fond memories of high school football. I remember proudly wearing my jersey around campus on game days, attending pep rallies, standing under the lights on the football field, and having the pride that comes with wearing a varsity letter with a little football on my chest. I wanted my son to feel that same school pride. 

I was proud of my status as a football player, even though I was actually a third-string benchwarmer. Prior to high school I played soccer, so I figured I would just go out for the football team and be the kicker. My team already had a kicker, so instead of kicking I did a lot of sitting. What I found out was that on Friday night nobody really paid attention to who was playing on the field during the game versus who was just on the team keeping the bench warm. Most importantly, high school girls had no idea who actually played or not, and their opinion was all I really cared about. The real reason I joined the football team was to meet girls (since science had shown that up to that point girls ignored soccer players). In the small town I grew up in, if you were a football player and you had a car, the chances of you becoming a parent before graduating high school rose exponentially.

I wanted the full high school football experience for my son. Of course, as his parent I certainly wasn’t looking for the increased teen pregnancy risk factor. Instead, I wanted him to gain the work ethic that is learned with long, hard-hitting football practices and the sense of camaraderie that is provided from being on a high-profile team sport. Unfortunately for my fatherly hopes, high school football just wasn’t in the cards for my son. 

Football wasn’t in my son’s DNA. As soon as he stopped breastfeeding and learned to walk, all of his baby fat disappeared. He wouldn’t grow up to be a lineman. And ultimately that was fine with me, since he wasn’t the kind of kid who liked to play rough, blow snot rockets, or hit stuff. He didn’t really possess the attitude for football (that attitude being of an angry disposition). Instead, he enjoyed doing things like reading, thinking about the environment, and watching Law & Order with his mom. He would never be a linebacker.

Based on my son’s sensitive nature and delicate tendencies, during his high school years, there were no Friday night lights at the local football field for me as a spectator. Instead, we spent our Friday nights watching documentaries about ocean mammals. Don’t feel bad for me: My son earned a full-ride scholarship to college on academic achievement alone (probably due to a lack of smacks to the head from football).

Luckily for me, and my love for high school football, I had a daughter who was kind enough and talented enough to become a high school cheerleader. So now I can spend my Friday nights at the football games cheering on our school without looking like some sort of weird old man who hangs around watching high school sports. Every Friday night I put on the school colors head to toe, get my bleacher seat (also in school colors), and I drive out to the games. Even though I’m not on the official football coaching staff, I still get to coach as I yell loudly from the bleachers and encourage the actual coach to make better play calls and substitutions. “Don’t be a wuss! Go for it on fourth down! Do it for the kids! This ain’t the Raiders! We aren’t here to lose games!” I’m sure he appreciates my input on each and every game night.

I have fully embraced being a cheerleader dad. I watch all of the halftime routines, ensure my daughter’s bow is on straight before every game, and my official job (besides yelling at the football coach) is to take my truck and drag the cheerleading trailer to all of the events. I even stand up and clap when the cheerleaders say “C’mon parents section! Let’s get loud!” And I never critique my daughter or the squad when they cheer, “Let’s go defense!” while we are on offense. It happens. I am secure and I know my place on the social ladder of high school parents on Friday night. I’m one rung beneath the football player parents and one rung above the band geek parents. “Go! Fight! Win!”

I enjoy my Friday nights, and I still love the hard-hitting action that high school football provides. My only complaint is that I have to watch from the stands. They won’t let me sit on the team’s bench to keep it warm. I realize now I had a great front-row seat to all those games during my high school years. I miss it. 

The chest of Rob’s T-shirt reads “Cheer Dad.” No, it isn’t bedazzled. You can read more from Rob Krider or contact him at robkrider.com.




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