It’s what we do
It’s chilly out–somewhere in the 40s–and we’re not wearing jackets. The Super Bowl will kick off in two hours.The boy and I stand across from each other and he screams, “Run!” And so I trot a little, step into a post route, and look back at him. In one fluid motion, he slips his hand to the back of the ball and his fingers over the laces. He pulls his arm back and throws. Most kids his age throw–and I won’t say what everybody actually calls it–from the elbow. My boy arcs his arm and throws with everything he has in his shoulder. He’s looking right at me, because that’s how I’ve taught him to be accurate. We’ll work on not telegraphing his intentions later. For now, he’s five and the ball is coming off his fingers in a tight spiral and zipping directly into my hands. It almost hurts.
I must be smiling, because the boy’s face instantly lights up. He knows he has done it right.
“That was like a nine-year-old! Or a ten-year-old!” he screams. “And I’m five!”
I now consciously smile to let him know that I saw it, I felt it, and, yeah, no five-year-old should be able to throw a ball like that. It may just be a dad’s pride, but the kid has an arm and a brain. If he chooses to do something with it, he’ll probably do well.
“Run!” I scream, and he runs a fade. I loft the ball high in the air and watch as it falls into his arms.
This was Super Bowl Sunday.
Many of my friends who didn’t grow up in America don’t see the appeal. Their football is soccer, and what we watch is some confusing and bastardized version of rugby. I’ve tried to explain it, but usually come up short. I think I know, but time is short today. The boy was up three hours past his bed time. The baby was up three hours before he was supposed to wake up. It’s what happens on days surrounding the Super Bowl. We’re all tired.
See, despite not being rabid fans, stat hounds, or even particularly loyal to one team, football is what we do around here. We have the DirecTV NFL Sunday ticket. We make big meals. We watch a lot of ball. From September to February, if we’re home, we watch football on Sunday.
I’m still not entirely sure how it worked out this way–this way in which I turn down an invite to the hottest Super Bowl party in town, don’t put a bet down on the game, and spend half a day cooking for only three people. For the Super Bowl, I made gumbo (with homemade stock!), shrimp po boys with homemade remoulade, and tangy cole slaw. Then we ate popcorn and watched the game. I’m still full.
No, I don’t know how we got here, but I know why it will always be this way, and I know the quickest way to explain it to my friends from overseas.
Whether it is a city holding hands as one to rally behind its underdogs, or it’s me and the boy tossing the ball in the yard, football is family.