Monday, October 19, 2009

There's losing......and then there's losing to jerks!

First, let me give a well-deserved pat on the back to Grant and his fellow teammates. As "only" junior high, they tend to get overlooked a bit, but they are truly amazing! To date, they remain undefeated in football. Their smallest winning point margin has been 30+ points. They are literally decimating their competition. We've had parents of several opponents complain that they are much more like playing a high school junior varsity team than a junior high team. So.......WAY TO GO! (At the moment, they are also all sick, or recovering, or about-to-be sick. Grant has run 103+ degree fevers over the weekend and is home from school today. Much of the team was out sick last week, and I'm sure that the remainder will be out this week, along with Grant. Seems that they share more than their winning spirit!)

So......with well-deserved kudos to Grant and friends.......I'm sorry to say that Dane has had the opposite rotten luck this year of playing on a struggling team. We knew that it was going to be a re-building year. New coaches with an entirely new type of play..........lots of new kids.......and it hasn't gone well for them. Over the next two years, we lose a total of 6 players through graduation. Three seniors this year, and three seniors next year. And we gain at least 15 players with Grant's class next year, and at least 15 the following year. 6 out and 30 in!! That alone is hope for the future. Football is a sport that there is strength in numbers, despite the fact that you can only put 11 boys on the field at a time. As a parent, its been frustrating to sit in the stands and watch them struggle through another season, but there are SO many things wrong that they just can't all be fixed in one year.....

But this past weekend, we played a team that is a very personal rival of a different sort for the boys. As parents, most of us tend to direct venom at a different school nearby that we've already played. We gripe and grinch and refuse to buy concessions at "their house" just out of principle. But for the boys, THIS is the school they hate and for very clear reasons. You see, our district "links" with these other two districts and allows what is commonly referred to as "choice-ing", meaning that you can attend any of the three separate districts, regardless of where you live, as long as if you choose to attend one of the schools outside your "home district", you apply and are accepted into that student body. (As a whole, I like this option. I feel strongly that, from an academic standpoint, it has strengthened all three schools as they all desire a higher student count to acquire more funding. Let me also say that I think that Raymond has, by far, met the academic challenge the best. If I'm be it.) The team that we played this past weekend? No less than seven of their starting line-up are boys that attended and still live in our district. Needless to say, when we are struggling, and we face kids that our boys attended elementary school with and, in some cases, still live next door to, and "we" are struggling and "they" are winning, it brings up terms like loyalty. None of these boys claim to have left left their home district due to academic reasons. Its all about sports. Which tends to make the boys that consider themselves "loyal" very angry and bitter. Interesting...........I won't pass more judgement than that.

In any case, I think our boys could have handled simply losing. They've lost before. They'll lose again. They know that. But the boys on the winning team play a very dirty, ornery game of football. They twist the ankles and knees of their opponents at every opportunity. They hit and punch on the bottom of the pile. They grab face masks whenever they think the referees aren't looking. They are excessively verbally abusive on the line of scrimmage (pretty much all high school football is somewhat verbally improper on the line). And that.......THAT........has added a slow burn of fury deep in the bellies of our football team. Our boys had some personal fouls at the end of the game for finally yelling back....and I couldn't blame them. And they had the spines to not hide behind their teammates and be sneaky about it.

I'm not usually a Mom that preaches vengeance and retaliation. But I hope.......I truly hope.....that there will be some justice for Dane against this team before he graduates from high school. I haven't said that to him. I probably won't. But I would like to see my son have the points on his side of the board exceed this particular opponent.

Either way, my son will emerge the better man. Loyal, honest, and not cheating behind the backs of the referees.

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