My son is a High School senior and a football player. He loves the game. He loves the workouts, the lifting the physicalness of the sport. He loves the showmanship and the battle on the field. He loves his teammates. Midway through the season his bicycle got run over by a car, when I grilled him about it, he told me one of his teammates ran over it. When I asked which teammate, he refused to tell me, he said that the football team was his other family and that “snitches get stitches” …
At the beginning of the season his team lost players to some of our local private schools that are known to poach the best public-school players. He was devasted and upset that they lost their “secret weapons”. There were no longer any superstars on the team. My son and his teammates realized that they couldn’t rely on a few great players to do all the work… they were going to have to do it themselves… This was probably the best thing that could have happened to them. With no egos to get in the way, they jelled, the seniors and juniors bonded and supported each other, they really became a family, on and off the field. The English language doesn’t really have a word for this bond, the closest word we have is love, these kids loved each other, they played with heart and passion and it showed. It was, esprit de corps. They were not the fastest, or biggest and went up against some bigger dogs and won.
They went 4 and 0 when their fortune ran out and lost to a big powerhouse team. At the end of the day football is an arms race, and if you have bigger, faster, stronger, well coached players you usually win. My sons team bounced back and ended up winning their conference, the first time 34 years and qualified for the state tournament. There were seated 6th in their bracket and went up against an undefeated 3rd seat. They game was close at the half however they lost by two touchdowns. My son came home at 10pm still in his uniform, dirty, grimy, eye black smeared on his face and he just looked at me gave me a big hug and then started sobbing… I didn’t say anything, I just hugged him. That is when I understood, he wasn’t crying about the loss, he was crying that it was the end of his football playing career. He would never put the pads on, never have summer practice, it was the end of an era, that chapter of his young life was over. For that he was sobbing, the loss of his football family.
I remember 8 years ago when he stated playing football and the main stream media was talking about concussions and the long-term effects of football on the brain and body, especially in kids. People were predicting the end of football. My wife and I weighed letting him play. In the end we felt that keeping him from playing with his friends would be more damaging than whatever blows he would be delt on the gridiron. Boys and young men need a tribe, they need competition, they need to be physical. Denying that would have been devastating on the boy… I feel that football has taught my son a lot about life. He can work on a team; he can take coaching and make the appropriate corrections. He can work for a goal bigger than himself. He knows how to lead and he knows how to follow. He can listen. He knows the beauty of victory and the sting of loss.
Some of you have been part of something, sports teams, military units, law enforcement departments, fire fighters, first responders, gyms, clubs. I hope your experience was as rich as my sons was and you found your tribe…
-Todd Fairbairn (Owner/CEO)