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.
As I stood there, with head throbbing, it became more and more apparent that not only could I not stand to be on that side of the field, I could not stand to be standing at all. The side of my right foot and ankle was also throbbing. I balanced on my left leg while leaning on the chained marker and considered the possibilities.
It was hard to ignore the fact that I only two weeks ago my high school year book had fallen from a high shelf in the garage and landed (spine to bone) right onto the bony protuberance of my right ankle.
I brought my attention back to the game just on time to move the marker down the field. Something had happened, perhaps we intercepted the ball and took it into the end-zone. We were now moving to the 15 yard line at other end of the field. The coach was now yelling obscenities. I did my best to block it out.
I thought back to last weekend, my ankle had been black and blue after finishing my 20-mile run. That was when my worries of a fracture began. But as the week wore on, the pain subsided. I probably should have considered the fact that I SIT ALL DAY long.
On play later, our team was running the ball in for another touchdown. I didn’t need to look at the scoreboard to feel their pain. This was TOO painful to watch. It was our 3rd string team, but it was obvious that we would have to back off more. I wondered if our coach would be sidelined for the next game because of the lopsided score.
Moments later, their player was running down the field with the ball. Our players were running right at his heels. A trail of fallen players, who had missed each attempt to tackle by a large margin, was left behind. Like a theatrical play, the audience on both sides of the field cheered wildly. The ball stopped short of the goal line. A player had gotten too close and made an actual tackle. *groan*
The pain might not have worried me had I run some great distance recently. I had not; I’d only run 7 miles the day before and the pain had started up again early in the run. It was not a severe pain by any means, but it was not a pain that could be ignored. Remembering back to my injury in October 2006, I decided that I needed verify that I did not have a fracture. I would go to get an x-ray later on in the day.
It was a relief to have finally made a decision. It rejuvenated me in much the same way as finally scoring fueled our opponents. I can’t be sure, but I think they intercepted our pass and made surprised everyone by making a touchdown on their own accord. Everyone, even Coach Hollerback, went home happy.
In case you were wondering: My x-ray did NOT show a fracture and I was referred to podiatry for follow up.