Understanding Football

My challenge this month is to learn the game of football. Although I cant imagine that I will ever be convinced that watching men in tight pants move a few inches across the field every hour could ever get my adrenaline pumped, I am ready to give it my best shot.

For two weeks I have sat on the sidelines during Thumper’s football practices listening intently to his coach in an attempt to get some meaning out of the game. I have been very impressed in the way that he and the other volunteer coaches have been proficient in training these wiry adolescents.

With each day the sounds of calm, nurturing coaching progressively becomes more testosterone injected. I always knew that football was a violent sport but hearing that hitting is the essence of the game has filled me with trepidation and fear. “What’s the object of football?” Matt asks, “Hitting,” the kids yelled back. “I didn’t hear you,” he returns, “HITTING,” they yell out louder and fiercer. Say it louder next time, he yells back. YES COACH!!! they reply unison. I felt queasy and considered it ironic that I had been teaching my sons all these years that hitting is not okay.

The energy was fantastic at the first game where cued up music and hilarious quotes from great movies like Dirty Harry and Austin Powers were broadcasted. I started to think that maybe football wasnt so bad after all.

As I watched their first game my fears were both dispelled and confounded. There was my tall, skinny, fidgety almost ten year old playing an actual game of football and getting pummeled by giants twice his weight on the opposing team and I couldnt run up to the field to make sure he was ok.

It was a relief to find that there were a handful of other moms whose ignorance of the game was as great as mine. Go Defense, my new friend yelled from the bleachers. I was impressed that she knew what to yell until she looked at her boyfriend and asked with blushing cheeks if she had yelled out correctly. Were all in this together I assured her.

Since football began I have learned that Thumper is far more capable of focusing than I ever believed. His entire constitution has changed. Instead of watching television on Saturday mornings he gets up and opens his homework for he knows that if he does not complete it he will not play in the Sunday game.

I am so happy for him that he has found a sport that is helping him to mature but it is hard for me as a mother to accept that as my sons grow they will be taking on more dangerous sports that defy all my nurturing instincts. I guess I am the one who needs to change and accept that I have to let go a little.

The more I educate myself the more it is likely that I will become a football mom shouting and dancing from the bleachers at her kid on the field. I guess that alternative is better than remaining quiet and ignorant forever. Go Longhorns!

***skip to 6 years later and I am noooo better than I was.

experiencing the pain of losing


14 thoughts on “Understanding Football

  1. Hi Jillian! I’m just sure we can find a “Football for Dummies” book! Or that Idiot series – they really are great in their simplicity. Otherwise, you only need to know this:

    Defense – When his team does NOT have the ball (You scream “Get that ball! or STop them!”)
    Offense – They DO have the ball so you scream for a touchdown.
    Everything else is “details” – this will get you thru on a good fake.
    Somehow I survived being a cheerleader in h.s. when I didn’t even know THAT much! Amazingly over the years I’ve developed into a football fan and I’m stoked because the season started, although The Bears lost in an embarrassing game last night with Green Bay.
    (I decided if you can’t fight em, join em – everyone I knew, and my husband to boot, is a huge fan!) Yeah it’s violent in analysis – so I skip the analysis. (However – I refuse to watch wrestling.)

    Find me a sport without injury potential and I’ll point to the couch!
    You have a mom card. You will worry. It comes with the card.
    (You may want to Re-think going to his practices unless he begs you to be there.)


  2. Hey Jillian,

    You need my friend Erica Boeke!!! She has a book and blog called Go Game Face. She was on TV pre Super Bowl giving women tips and jargon for the game. Her website is:


    Tragic/comically I was head cheerleader in high school?!?!? (Saving face, I must mention I also played Lacrosse.) Anyway, looks likes that will serve me well in a few years in terms of knowing the game….Don’t think it will stop me from wanting to run out on the field.

    As a mom of a 4 year old, I suddenly totally get appeal to boys/men (same dif). Yelling, hitting, tackling, running is not only allowed but what your supposed to do! Total freedom to be themselves.

    You can also follow Erica on Twitter and Go Game Face on Facebook.

    If it’s okay, I am going to email her a link to your post. I think giving moms the ins and outs would be a great topic for her.

    Best, E.


    1. Thanks Elizabeth,

      I will be sure to visit her website. I need all the help I can get and please do forward to her my link. I need more friends like you and her to teach me the ropes. I didn’t make the cut in cheerleading. I’m too much of a dreamer.


  3. I love football. But I get queasy just thinking of my boys playing it. They can do the pee wee league in our town at the age of five. My oldest son just turned five. I’m scared to death. Again, I repeat, I LOVE FOOTBALL. When it’s someone else’s son playing. Egads.


  4. Jillian,

    You are so funny. Yes, I really do cook that way, and I am so happy that you found me and want to try some of my recipes. Really, though, very few of them are actually mine, but it is a place I keep the things we make on a regular basis, easy to get to. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you like some of our regular dinners! I should be posting a new recipe I am going to try tonight along with my review. Just so you know. 🙂

    Also, I decided I wanted to get into football this season. I have never been into sports (aside from hockey) in my life. I am still not understanding much (what the heck is a safety? And why do they sometimes end the game when there is still time on the clock? What is going on?) but I am having a lot more fun watching it than I thought I would. Good luck learning, and even more luck to watching your sons get pummeled. You are a stronger woman than I am!


  5. There is a website somewhere called football 101 for women or something like that. I remember reading about it in ESPN a few years ago (ok, or you could ask me — I LOVE football). I hope he has a great year. Those maturity inducing activities are so key. We’re still looking for ours!


  6. Well done on trying to understand football! I don’t get it either and my parents know this, so every Thanksgiving, I sit with them in front of the TV and yell some of my key phrases, no matter what is going on.

    “Holding!” (Someone is ALWAYS holding)
    “Defense!” (Doesn’t matter who has the ball)
    “The QB needs to scramble in the pocket!”
    (This is my favorite but can only be used at specific times)

    Good luck with learning the game! I’m sure it’ll all click after a few more games…or seasons?


    1. It’s so nice to know that I have fellow neophytes on my side. I’m certain that if I start yelling out at games it won’t go over as well and my husband and boys will end up on the opposite side of the bleachers out of embarrassment, but I’ll try.


  7. Sorry, I can’t really help you, I just go along for the party! Ha! Football is lots of fun, but I don’t think I could watch my own kid play…. I don’t know how you do it!


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