Last year, my son Owen suddenly announced he wasn't going to play flag football anymore. I was mildly surprised, as he had always enjoyed it but could understand that with most of his friends now playing tackle ball at middle school, it probably wasn't very cool anymore. And yeah, compared to the other sports he plays like basketball and baseball, flag football is a pretty loose ship. Everybody on the team plays the same amount and everybody has to get mostly equal touches. They don't even practice during the week. So for a kid like Owen who is "in it to win it" as they say, I could understand his decision.
So I was surprised this year when he suddenly announced, "I think I want to play flag football again."After all, we do live in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Ohio State Buckeyes so I guess he figured after a year off, SOME football is better than no football. We signed him up past the deadline and lucky for us they had room to add him to a team.
Last Sunday, he caught a ball in the flat, made a couple of moves and took it to the house. Once in the end zone, he assumed a position like he was a baseball pitcher, did a full wind-up, dropped the ball and followed through with his arm motion. He gave a big strike sign like an umpire and then dropped to one knee and pointed both hands to the sky.
I thought, "That's a pretty good one." Most kids in flag football do some kind of dance or celebration after they score, so I've seen the dab, superman & others many times. And it isn't like the kids are showing off. Like I said, flag football is all about fun. In fact, Owen's coach this year has a rule that celebrations are mandatory if your score.
So later that night, watching WWE Clash of Champions at home he said, "Dad, what did you think of my tribute today." "What do you mean?" I asked. "You know, after my touchdown?" Owen replied.
"Oh, your celebration. Yeah, that was a pretty clever one."
He muted the sound on the TV: "Dad, that wasn't a celebration, that was a tribute." I paused. "I guess I don't understand." He explained, "I told myself that if I scored a touchdown today I was going to do something to honor Jose Fernandez." For those who don't follow MLB, Jose Fernandez was an all-star pitcher for the Miami Marlins who was tragically killed in a boating accident the night before. He was only 24, full of talent and loved by fans and teammates.
"So that wasn't a celebration. That was a tribute because I'm sad Jose Fernandez died and I was thinking about him. We are both pitchers you know."
How stupid I am? I didn't even recognize what he was doing with the fake pitch and the point to heaven. "Owen, that's about the nicest thing I've ever heard. I'm sure Jose appreciated it."
We went back to watching wrestling.
Colin Gawel owns Colin's Coffee and plays in the band Watershed. You can read about him in the book Hitless Wonder or see the band in Detroit Saturday October 8th. He is currently reading the latest book by Chuck Klosterman.