October 02, 2003

Monkey Off Our Back

This is my son's fourth year of organized football. Before yesterday, his teams (three seasons of PAL football and the current season of his middle school team) were a combined 0-20-1. Some lowlights:

  • His teams were 0-1-1 in games designed to get the two worst teams together to give one of them a chance to win.
  • Last year, his team gave up more points in their best defensive effort (24) than they scored all year total (6).
  • They also allowed more total points on interception returns (18) than they scored.
  • They also allowed more total points on safeties (8) than they scored.
  • They also gave up more total points to second- and third-string units (12) than they scored.
  • In three years of PAL football, his teams had 4 games with positive net yards. Total.
  • Also in that time span, they averaged two first downs per game.
And his team was 0-3 so far this year: 36-12, 24-0, 28-22. That last one was simultaneously hopeful and heartbreaking - after taking the lead, they gave up a Hail Mary on the last play of the first half (nobody bothered to cover the receiver). They took the lead again and gave up another bomb (nobody bothered to cover the reciever). They took the lead a third time and gave up yet another bomb (and still, nobody bothered to cover the receiver). They finally lost the game in overtime.

So yesterday was the Bruin Bowl, where the two middle schools that feed the high school play in the high school's stadium. Although it isn't the last game of the season, it's usually the high point since they get to play where the Big Boys play, at night with lights, with a P.A. announcer, and all that. Anyway, their opponents came in 2-1, and I was all ready to to have to console my son after yet another blowout.

A funny thing happened on the way to the beating. After forcing the other team three-and-out, we scored on a beautiful 40-yard pass on our first play. After forcing another three-and-out, we returned the punt inside the 20 and scored two plays later. Well, it went on like that all game, and when the siren sounded (a siren! really!) at the end, his team had won 28-0, and we were finally on the other side of the kind of thrashing we were used to receiving.

There's a cliche about feeling like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Most cliches are cliches (i.e., overused) because they have more than a grain of truth to them. As I walked down the ramp and out of the stadium, I truly did feel like I no longer had a burden I was accustomed to carrying, when flower_goddess and I would try to sneak back to the car without being noticed because we just got pounded again. My son wanted to quit after the 24-0 game earlier this year -- he literally believed that he was a jinx to his team. The same group of kids had gone 5-2 the previous year, and the only difference this year were the addition of him and a couple of other kids who graduated from PAL. We were able to convince him to stick it out mainly by making him consider how he'd feel if he quit and the team then won a game.

Fortunately, now he'll never have to know.

Posted by Chris at October 2, 2003 03:18 PM

Category: Local Stuff