I don’t know what has happened to me. All of a sudden I am in the swirl of team pride for my grandchildren. I plan my weekends around games and am always there to support them. I also find myself dropping “helpful” hints which I am sure my grandsons take with a grain of salt. I talked to one about the importance of getting the team excited when he was the quarterback, talked to another about how important it is to share the basketball with his team mates rather than dribbling it all the way down court and making 2 points, and another time suggesting my son-in-law and daughter watch some football with one to show him what he is supposed to do when it was obvious he was confused. The next game he played perfectly because they watched ‘film’ as my daughter put it. All of this for my grandsons who are only in elementary school.
We did not have that sort of team spirit when I was in school. I grew up around Air Force bases and moved every other year which did not allow us to really get involved in any one sport or team. I was a member of the marching bands at each high school and I remember the team spirit within the band. The football games were just a sideline to our half-time shows. I do not remember being involved in the games at all. The only time I caught a bit of the mania was when we lived in Washington, IN when my dad was serving in Vietnam. Grandpa took us to a few basketball games and they were electric. Small towns really like to support their teams.
And then when my two were in school one was into golf and the other into swimming. No football or basketball or baseball. So the team spirit did not hit me then either. They definitely had support and earned their letter jackets – both were very good at their sport. But the team pride bug did not bite then either. Child pride – definitely – but not really team pride.
I saw a bit of team pride while I was consulting in a small town in northern Indiana. One evening my co-consultants and I noticed the whole town seemed to be deserted. Where was everyone? It wasn’t that big of a town. In fact it was so small that we had to select restaurants based on the day of the week they were open for dinner. The next day we learned everyone was at the local little league baseball game. The whole town! The next time it happened we drove by the baseball fields and yep, it looked like the whole town was there. What a great show of team pride.
I have to admit that when my daughter and son-in-law first got their oldest son involved in sports I was a bit put out. I saw them quite a bit before – they’d come over to see me with the kids and they’d invite me over for dinners. And then when the oldest grandson started getting involved in sports they stopped coming around as much. They didn’t have time to come over, they stopped asking me over for dinner, and when they did have an evening with no games they did not want to do anything because of all the running around with practices and games. So although I started going to the games initially to support my grandson, I mainly also wanted to see my family again. But then over time, I have become almost as involved as them. Only I get to be involved as a grandparent which I would argue is an even better position to be in.
It is very entertaining to watch the games. The kids are so young and are learning. Some plays make you laugh while others make you proud. And sometimes it is more entertaining to watch the parents. I can always tell who the coach’s son is – the one the coach is hardest on. I can always tell if one of the boys are slacking because either the mother or father or both are pointing that out to him from the sideline. If one gets hurt the fathers tell them to get back in the game while the mother is already running up with an ice pack. Grandfathers sit back patiently and provide good pointers to their grandsons. And this grandmother reminds the players that they are there mainly to have fun – that is the whole point.
My grandsons live in an area where one mother put it perfectly – “We had no idea when we moved here that we needed to join the cult of sports team pride!”. Many others immediately commented how they never owned anything red before their children played sports and now their closets are filled with red items. Yep! I totally agree. I just moved into this area recently and now I have caught the bug and joined the “cult”. Although red is a favorite color for me, I now also have a red team jersey with their last name, a black team jacket with their last name, a red team pullover jacket, and a team spirit winter pom beanie hat that I am very proud of. You would think I grew up here.
I can say for sure that my team spirit was born here. I never supported anything other than professional sports before now. College sports were boring to me and high school sports had absolutely no appeal. But now I go to each of my grandsons games eagerly. I am caught up in the spirit of the community and am looking forward to seeing my grandsons and their friends grow up. What sport will really interest them in high school and college? Is it going to be football, basketball, baseball, or all three or a combination of two or maybe none at all? Not sure. But no matter what it is and where they are, this grandma will be yelling on the side lines, doing high-fives when they do something great, supporting them when they mess up, and reminding them that they need to enjoy themselves and most of all – have fun.
Now about that closet full of red. Hopefully they join a college team with red colors. IU would be a great college. Not only did I graduate from IU but it is within driving distance so I could attend the games. Just saying! 🙂
A special note from this grandma: I also have two granddaughters into cheerleading and gymnastics and another grandson into flag football. On this special day when my oldest grandson’s team won the Super Bowl of the Border Wars, my youngest grandson’s team won their last flag football game of the year. And the middle grandson, yes, they won their Super Bowl this year too! Good thing I love football…I see a lot of games in my future!