As time wore on, I became increasingly uncomfortable. Like sitting ducks, the three of us stood in the chain gang with our backs to the opposing side. We were not at war, though at times if felt that way; we were merely at my son’s football game. From behind me, a coach bellowed, “Just HIT THEM — anyone wearing red.” I bit my tongue and held tight to the padded grip on my end of the chain-linked marker just as YaYa walked out onto the field.
The game continued and I tried to keep a careful eye on YaYa. I was again questioning my decision to allow him to play tackle football. I shouldn’t be surprised to hear this coach’s remarks of combat, but I was. As the 4th down ended, I watched YaYa slowly make his way off the field. It was all I could do not to do my own yelling. RUN, YaYA; run for your life! That was when I realized that the referee was trying to get me to pay attention to the rest of the gang and move the markers down the field.
The other team now had the ball. I watched as they moved farther and farther down the field — in the WRONG direction. The same coach resumed his yelling. “ARE YOU IDIOTS?!” he screamed. I could not believe my ears. Looking back at the players who stood on the sidelines, I saw the look of terror and wondered if they were more afraid of our team or their coach. Then, I looked across the field at my son’s coaches and hoped that nothing like this was happening on that side of the field. I sure hope that YaYa would tell me if he was being treated the way the kids on this team were being treated. I know that they need to be tough, but they don’t need be beaten down. They’re kids. This is just a game.
I watched the seconds click away on the clock. Finally. It was halftime.
I quickly retreated to the safety of the sidelines as the cheerleaders took over the field. They danced around and shook their little pom poms. The throbbing in my head eased a little.
All too soon, we were crossing enemy lines again. I tried to stand tall (all 5’2″ of me) as the game resumed. The yelling did not start up right away but, when it did, it came full force. More orders to slaughter (my word, not his) the opponent were given. It was no used. Our team was slaughtering (by way of touchdowns) their team.