What kind of man am I? (“The question.”)

It was a week ago today.  The first football game I had attended in years.

The weather was cold, with drizzling rain and light snow showers in the mountains and an occasional lonely flake finding its way to where I was sitting in the visitors’ bleachers.

Across the field was my high school football team playing in a first round state playoff game.  The home team bleachers were about half full.

I could have sat there if I’d really wanted to.  There was plenty of room, but I didn’t want to take the chance that someone might recognize me and ask me what I’m up to.

Then again, no one would likely know me.  The community had changed too much in the thirty six years since I’d graduated from the home of the “Red Devils.”  Who would know, who would care about this solitary single Latino PhD. who’d shown up to watch their boys play, who was venturing from his cave out of curiosity for this winning football team?

But as luck would have it, I soon encountered other Springville HIgh School alumni, actually members of a clan of longtime, loyal alumni and athletes who have actively supported athletics in town as long as I have known them.  Decent folk who also seem to like to sit in the visitors’ bleachers.  At least, that’s where I’ve seen them sit for high school basketball games that I’ve attended in the past .

We eventually saw and acknowledged each other and I chatted with one who I have played golf with on occasion and who will be coaching basketball for the first time at a new area high school.

Painless and beside the point of my story.

Springville played well and convincingly defeated their opponent.  I enjoyed the game despite the cold that was intensified by wet metal bleachers.

I felt sympathy for the drill teams who performed at halftime in warm weather attire.  And I was glad I wasn’t a member of the tiny marching band that was dressed in their marching uniforms.

It was observing that band sitting across from me in the home team stands that got me thinking:

I was them!  They are me!!

I wasn’t a high school athlete.  I was a band/music geek, I suppose.  Nothing wrong with that, of course.  I loved playing drums in marching and stage band and singing accapella.  I had some talent that I never fully developed with enough professional instruction, but I did alright.

I played sports as a boy here growing up: little and pony league baseball, church youth and young men’s basketball.  But never felt good or confident enough to try out for any school teams.

As a boy I fantasized about playing football, actually mowing and lining the backyard lawn like a football field with miniature goal posts.  Listening to BYU football radio broadcasts outside on Saturday afternoons, I’d toss the hand-sized football high through the sky to myself and catch it for big gains or an occasional crucial touchdown.  Of course, I’d wear my helmet through it all and celebrate or mourn when circumstance called for it.

The closest I came to actually living the fantasy was the day I donned a football uniform to practice with the sophomore football team.  I don’t remember exactly who mentioned the team was still accepting and needing players, but I showed up after classes one afternoon, put on the gear and made a qualified attempt.  But I really wasn’t prepared for the physical or emotional pounding.  One day and I was done.

From then on it was music and golf for me!

I plan to go to tomorrow afternoon’s second round playoff game that Springville plays here.

And I will again think about the question I began to ask myself that day in ways I had not before:

So…what kind of a man am I?

To be continued….

2 thoughts on “What kind of man am I? (“The question.”)

  1. Gracias, mi amiga. I miss dropping by your office to say hi and riff and get the occasionally needed hug. Your embrace here is much appreciated!!! 2gatos :>{)

  2. wish i had the time to savor your entries. to read each one, closely and with care. to enjoy the luxury of at least a full day of rumination on each entry. instead, due to the constraints of a crazy life, i read them in gulps-several at a time. they give me the same feeling I get from walking the ocean beaches along the oregon coast. Similar contradictions exist here: turbulence and immense peace, recognizable insignificance and reaffirming self assertion, the terribly ugly details and the tremendous beauty. i hope others will find these shooting stars among the space junk in the proliferating blogosphere.

    saludos cariñosos

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