Update: I wrote this one at the beginning of my second son’s rookie year in full pads tackle football. Now, it is four months later and the season is over. He played safety and, despite being the second-smallest kid on the team, showed a real fearlessness about tackling bigger runners. In the last game of the year, he came out to meet head-on a bigger running back and got slammed down to the turf but made the tackle. I held my breath but he got up and went back to the huddle and made 5-6 more tackles in that game. It is great to see your son bounce up and keep playing. Here’s the video of that play. He’s number 8.
My 7-year-old son is playing full pads tackle football for the first time this year and is one of the smallest and youngest on the roster. When the coaches divided the kids into two lines for the first tackling drill of the year, my son was fourth in his line. My eyes quickly went to the other line and I counted back four to see who he was matched up against. In his first attempt at a tackle, he had to bring down one of the biggest and fastest kids on the team. I got butterflies in my stomach imagining that my little rookie in a minute or two could be lying flat on his back, crying and saying, “Daddy, I don’t think football is for me.”
The coach blew the whistle and my little guy took off at full speed and launched himself at the bigger kid’s torso. The collision caused a popping sound ofhitting shoulder pads. My son was thrown backwards, and the bigger kid fell to the ground. The coaches, who had just seen a procession of six scared kids shrivel up just before the moment of contact, erupted in cheers. “Oh yeah! That’s what I want to see!” the coach yelled. A few parents watching from the sidelines broke into applause.
At the next water break, I congratulated him on his nice hit and told him how proud I was. My son responded, “So I was watching Cash Cab today, and these two people were totally guessing the right answers.”
“So you mean to tell me that when you are running full speed and tackling a bigger kid for the first time in your life,” I asked him, “What is actually going through your head is what happened on game shows you’d seen on tv today.”
He looked at me, looked at the ground, and then answered, “Yeah” with a tone that suggested he didn’t see anything particularly odd about that.