Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Why Boys Will Always Play Rough

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Why Boys Will Always Play Rough

Article excerpt

A few Saturdays ago my two boys tumbled out of the van after a

grueling day of football across town. After stripping off their

sweat- and turf-encrusted uniforms in the garage, my 12-year-old

handed me his helmet and said solemnly, "Whatever you do, do not

wash this."

No duh, I wanted to respond. After three years of Pop Warner

football, I understood the significance of each colored mark

that was ground into my son's white head protector. I understood

that erasing those marks would be the equivalent of ripping the

stripes off a soldier's uniform. Each vibrant gash represents a

head butt with the enemy. They are battle scars in the war of

football.

When my son first asked to play football, I did the motherly

thing and tried to talk him out of it. But it didn't take long

for me to realize it was the gun theory all over again. You

mothers of boys know what I'm talking about. The moment we gave

birth to them, we convinced ourselves that it was nurture, not

nature, which created aggressive, gun-loving Rambos. We promised

ourselves that our boys would be different. We prohibited

weapon-styled toys in our homes. We filled their toy boxes with

building blocks, puppets and educational toys. Mister Rogers and

Barney were the only television shows our boys were permitted to

watch. Then one day our toddlers fashioned guns out of Lincoln

Logs or Lego pieces, pointed them at their siblings and said,

"Bang."

Of course, once my older son started playing football, it was

only a matter of time before my younger son joined up. The first

day the polished helmet and bulky shoulder pads showed up in our

garage, a line of neighborhood boys formed in our driveway

waiting for the opportunity to try them on. I called the boys'

mothers to prepare them for the inevitable pleas for

participation. "I can't help it," I explained. "It's equipment

envy."

Five years ago I knew nothing about football. …

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