Sports Evolution

My wife likes to laugh at me. I apparently give her lots of reasons to. Specifically, however, she still finds it incredulous I attended a high school with no football program. To her, having attended high school in the deep South, where before you worship from the pews on Sundays, you do so from the stands on Saturdays and Friday nights, having no high school football was the equivalent of being stranded on a deserted island. How in the world did I ever survive?

That’s not to say my high school didn’t have a sports program. We did. Although basketball was our ‘premier’ sport, I chose to take part in Cross Country, Soccer, and Track. For what’s it’s worth, I was pretty good …. well, as good as you can get in a small, Catholic, 2A school. (I was told I held the school record in the mile run, but I never exactly believed how verifiable our athletic archives were. Still, I used that line on freshman girls A LOT!)

With a student body of just over 500, and coupled with a boy to girl ratio of about 1:4, our athletic program was – to put it kindly – sufficient. There were no tryouts. If you showed up, you were on the team. I remember a track meet against our rival high school Belen Jesuit Prep. Belen is an all-boys school, and they had more boys on their track team than I think we had in all our school. They filled three buses and a van, and every heat was five blue tank tops running against one white one.

So flash forward to this evening as I am watching my daughter’s middle school soccer team open up its season. My daughter’s school has 1800 students. No, that’s not a typo. No, that’s not an extra zero. 1800 students. There are more students in her grade level than were in my entire high school.

My daughter had to try out for the team, and there were cuts. Consequently, there were tears. And as I watched my daughter ride the bench for an hour as the second-string goalie, it was a little tough to not shed a few tears myself. It was hard for me not because my daughter didn’t play. She’s the starting keeper for her competitive team, and her taking a background role on a sports team is good, character building experience. Rather, it was hard on me because I couldn’t relate. I don’t know what it’s like to be a part of an organized athletic program like that. I don’t know what it’s like to have more than five people in the stands. Even in college, I walked onto the track team and it was as if I was doing them a favor just by showing up.

It’s said a lot of parents relive their glory days through the sporting exploits of their children. I am not sure that will be the case for me given the comparisons of programs and environment are as different as modern civilization and a deserted island.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to spell out H-E-L-P with these fallen palm trees.


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