Despite my exposure to football, it's never really been my thing. I went to every game in high school because I danced with the band at halftime. I cried in the stands when our team lost the state game. I played in a powder puff game during Homecoming week and desperately wanted to play the position of Center, because that is the person who hikes the ball and that was all I knew how to do.
My husband has tried to pick up where my Dad left off in educating me on the game. He's done his best, but my attention span is about 4.5 seconds when it comes to stuff I'm really in to, so yeah, it's less for football. I just make chili and boil peanuts and enjoy dressing in our team colors.
Our team colors are garnet and gold. Josh grew up an FSU fan and Florida State is my Alma Mater. It was just an extra blessing that they happen to have my favorite colors. :) What I lack in football knowledge and skills, I make up for in outfit choices.....
What I didn't know, what I wasn't really prepared for, was how it would feel to watch my son become a football fan. My baby boy. I mean, of course his Daddy changed him into a onesie covered in baseballs and footballs while I napped in the hospital, hours after giving birth. Of course, my Dad, his Pappy, put a football in his hands as soon as he could hold one. And Josh's Dad, his Dandy, he took Eli to his first FSU game. And a fan was born. A real, honest to goodness, screaming and shouting fan. While his sisters and I walked marathons to the concession stand and filled our game time with funnel cakes and selfies, he watched the game and knew what was going on.
I watched as every year, he fell more and more in love with a team. His team. And I came to learn that there is something special about a boy and his team. A bond, a hope, a loyalty. An awe for those who fill the team's roster.
And this year, y'all this year it's getting good.
Winning every.single.game. Winning big. Watching my boys watch their team and yell excitedly and look nervous even though we all know they are going to win big time.
And, then, bad news comes. Because all of this winning, all of this excitement, it comes literally on the heels of a 19 year old kid, who while gaining hero status in the eyes of many, is a mere mortal after all. Jameis Winston. Famous Jameis. He's not just a football star, we watched him play baseball last year at FSU when we took Eli for his birthday. He is that all American athlete, known for his smile and humility. And now news has come out, accusations made, and an exciting, winning season is tarnished.
And for as long as I've been alive there have been accusations and scandals and rumors. And for as long as I can remember I've gone on my merry way, completely unaffected. So, what causes me to talk about this now? What is the difference? This is the difference....
I'm a Mama and for the first time, a scandal involving a sports star hurts my heart. It hurts my heart because as much as I've done my best to discourage my children from idolizing celebrities (I saw the Miley Cyrus situation coming years ago. Bless it), it is hard at times to distinguish between the game and the team and the people that make up that team that my sweet boy loves so much.
I've seen football through eyes of innocence. It's really just a game to him. He doesn't know about scandals or money or controversy. He just knows that he loves sports and he loves to watch this team play the best.
And as I brace myself for what may be brought to light in weeks to come, as I contemplate how I will discuss this with my 8 year old, there are no easy answers. It is definitely a situation with no winners. And I'm not here to give my opinion on what happened. I wasn't there. I'm not here to condemn or comment on the situation. I won't pretend to know about something I don't.
I will say it is disappointing. I don't know when I became such a grown up, but I like to pretend that ball players my son looks up to are fine upstanding citizens who spend their free time studying in the library and volunteering at the hospital. It is eye opening. As the mom of girls I have often thought about keeping them safe and out of those kinds of situations. For the first time it has dawned on me how my son could possibly be put in a terrible situation on the other side of the coin. And it is discouraging. Sometimes it feels like in this life you can never just be excited and have fun. Someone or some thing is going to rain on your parade. Everybody has a secret.
And that's the thing. I guess everybody does. Maybe not something criminal or something that has the power to affect your entire future, whether it is true or not. But, we are all human. Fallible. Imperfect.
We want a hero. We want someone to be bigger than life for us. We want someone to be everything we want to be. We want to think that because someone is incredibly athletic or extremely talented or exceptionally beautiful that they don't also have the same struggles of the heart or weakness of the mind we struggle with. But they do.
As a Mom, I guess I could use this to teach how important it is to avoid situations where accusations like this could be made. I guess I could really drive home the point that one unwise decision could ruin your future. Or, I can use this to teach the very valuable lesson that we must choose wisely the people we give our admiration to. I can teach that there isn't enough talent or success in the world to keep you from falls and failures. I can teach that it is fun to cheer on a team and the athletes who take the field and run the ball, but it is important to understand that they are people, just like you. I can teach that only God will never let us down.
And I can be thankful for the real life people who, while not perfect, take to heart the influence they have, the role they play. And while I will encourage my son's fan hood and respect what a boy's team means to him, I will secretly rejoice over the coaches who will have the greatest impact on him. The ones who will teach him more than how to throw a ball. The ones who will teach him how to be a man.