I am a die-hard college football fan.
I cheered as loud as the college kids on television when ESPN’s College Gameday came to the home of my team, the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Before the big game, I prep a football-worthy meal, and on Sunday I go to church for my 2 year old son’s baptism.
Everything I have written waves a red flag and says, “Southern stereotype.” But, what if I told you my son will never play football.
Stories from the News
Last Monday, the national news covered a story about coaches of a national middle school football league, who paid their players for injuring good players on other teams.
A similar story appeared on the news the next day.
On Friday, I substitute taught at a school where I learned a student died one week after he suffered a concussion in a flag football game.
A family friend asked on Saturday if my father had heard about a boy—from his hometown—who dropped dead on the high school football field.
“There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel’s, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.” ~ gods in Alabama, Joshilyn Jackson.
Yes, there are football gods in the South whether in literature, on the front page of the newspaper or in your hometown where you see kids cry because their friend is gone; they saw what happened; or try to understand death.
Last week I was reminded—as a person and writer—how death can affect writing. I remembered how something, like football, is sometimes over-glorified in stories or in the minds of fans.
Fans want to pull for something beyond themselves; something that can go all the way to the top. Writers want to tell a good story, and mothers want healthy sons.
The Cycle: Celebration
As in life, writers understand or throw themes of cycles into their work. Where there is tragedy, celebration is born.
Two days after one child died, another was baptized. It does not soften the blow.
But, something powerful rushed through me when my son, husband and I kneeled together.
Maybe it was because we were recognized as a family after everything we’d been through in the last four years.
Perhaps it was the fact we had members from both of our families together for the first time.
Or, I knew I had a healthy, smart son that I would never surrender to the whims of a football coach, sports writer or even myself.
There are gods where you are, too.
When your pen gets going, only you decide what they are. You decide the rhythm, the words and the cycle.
By Rebecca T. Dickinson