I spend a lot of time writing about raising my kids and the role that sports plays in our lives. Well I don't know if you've heard, but rumor has it that at some point they're going to grow up. I'm not a fan, and I would stop it if I could, but since I can't, I hope that they find a sport (or hobby or some other passion) that they are so passionate about that they can hold onto it well into their adult years. Something that challenges them, comforts them, drives them.
With that in mind, I set out to talk to some real-life grown ups who are still finding happiness in the childhood sports that brought them so many memories, life lessons, and triumphs. I'm not talking about your typical weekend softball tournament or casual round of golf, I'm talking about athletes who train and compete at intense levels in order to hang on to something they love.
I figured I'd start with the husband. Husband has always been athletic, playing softball in the summer (and fall), basketball once a week in the winter, maybe hitting an open gym. He golfs in the occasional tournament. But last summer he joined a group of guys to play football. Legit tackle football with the Midwest Rampage. At 34 years old (now 35). As a father of three, educator, and fabulous husband (I'm not just saying that because he'll read this - I'm super needy, and he handles that well), what would lead someone to play a game where they are going to not only be sprinting around a field, but getting hit by big dudes?! Time for an interview.
Me: When did you start playing football?
Husband: I started playing padded football in 7th grade, but I played with my friends long before that.
Me: What is the best part? Why did you play?
Husband: The best part is coming together to accomplish a goal as a team. It's different than any other team sport because it takes a whole team almost every play. The line has to block, the QB has the throw, the WR has to catch. They all have to come together for it to work.
Me: What is the general reaction of people who find out you're still playing? Do people think you're crazy?
Husband: Yeah, people want to know why.
Me: So why do you still play?
Husband: I still play because I love the game and while I knew I was never going to play in the NFL, I always regretted not at least trying to play Arena Football or something. This has given me the chance to eliminate that regret. But more importantly, I play for the Rampage because it's different. I knew these guys for 3 months, but knew then that some would be lifelong friends.
Me: What would you say is the biggest life lesson you've taken away from football?
Husband: The biggest life lessons are being accountable and understanding that everyone's role is important. Football is the ultimate team game. Everyone has to do their job for things to go right. One person doesn't, and everything goes wrong.... tackle for loss, sack, turnover, whatever. But you also need to understand that everyone's role is important. I had some good games in high school, but the first people I always thanked were the linemen. They never get the credit they deserve, but without them doing their job, I can't do mine.