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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What Youth Football is About

It was sad to read that there was a triple shooting yesterday at a youth football game near Pittsburgh. No matter what the sport, parents often ruin it. But much more often, they and the coaches sacrifice untold hours going to and from unending practices to prepare for a game that goes in a flash.

So do the years.

Yesterday was the last day that many of the 125-pound Bethlehem Steelers, including my grandson, will ever play at the Monocacy Complex. They still have two regular season games, but they're away.

During football season, these young men practice four or five times a week, starting on the hottest days of Summer and then extending into bitterly cold nights. Some of them never see more than a few minutes of action, but they stay. Some of them get injured before the first ball is snapped, but they stay. Mothers, fathers and other loved ones get them there and take them home.

Coaches, and there can be as many as eight of them, spend all that time away from their jobs and on the field. What's more, they also spend time discussing plays, reviewing film and scouting other teams.

Most of these boys have spent six or seven years playing at different levels. Most of their coaches are around just as long, too.

Now the Steelers are by no means unique. This goes on everywhere, whether it is the Bethlehem Steelers, the Upper Saucon Storm or the Lower Macungie Mustangs.

So what do they learn? They might learn how to tackle or block, but there's other, more important, lessons. The willingness to come to practice, one day at a time, teaches discipline. Facing a team that's bigger and stronger than them, teaches courage. Knowing that other kids, who might be more or less gifted, are working beside them every day, teaches respect. Helping a fallen opponent to his feet teaches compassion. Sitting on the bench, waiting for a chance to play, teaches patience. Seeing parents make numerous sacrifices, day after day, teaches love.

So if you think youth football has gone to Hell, look above at the picture of elusive running back Mohammed, who is holding his little sister's hand as he and his family make their way onto the field.

Or take a look at the very obvious love between this young man and his mother.
Then there's QB "Who Dat" Lambert, who is never happier than when his mom is at his side, even though he now towers over her.
They were a great bunch of kids. Now they're a great bunch of young men.


Anonymous said...

Nice article Bernie!
Dat has really grown up & it's great that he loves his sports.
Good for him.

Anonymous said...

what do you expect!

Bill Coker said...

That's Dat? What happened to the little kid I used to know? Bernie, we're getting old.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I know. He gets taller every week.

But I can still kick his ass.

ironpigpen said...

What is the team's record this season?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe they ate 5 and 3, with 1 or 2 games left. They need to win those games to make it into the playoffs.

ironpigpen said...

The New York Giants had a less overwhelming record of 9 wins, 7 losses last fall ... got hot at the right time of the year ... and are now your defending NFL champions.

I hope Dat and his teammates realize the old saying "it ain't over 'til its over" exists for a reason.