Football Saturdays


I am a college football fan, mostly out of necessity. I’ve been the minority gender at my house since 1976. Having a husband, two boys and no girls was great most of the time, but left me with the choice of a) becoming a football fan so I’d have someone to talk to from August to January, or b) not becoming a football fan, and having lots of time to do girl things by myself. I didn’t want to miss a whole chunk of my children’s growing up just because they were, well, boys, so I became sort of a football fan. When my boys were younger I’d read Sports Illustrated for Kids while were at school. When they got home and excitedly paged through the magazine, I’d be ready. I could talk football, and most sports with them,  and not be left out. And it turned out to be fun.

As the kids became older it got easier. First, I had learned more by then, and second, they had other things they wanted to do besides talk to me, so I didn’t have to keep up with quite so much. So I’d just read up on Michigan (the University of Michigan that is) and the Chicago Bears, and I’d be set. And then I’d follow my favorite quarterbacks, because while working hard to become a faux football fan, I actually found a few things I liked about football. Doug Flutie for instance.

Then, something happened to up the ante. First born son entered the University of Michigan and began to play in the marching band. Suddenly, I didn’t just have to know about football, but I had to GO to it. Well, I didn’t HAVE to go, I wanted to go to it, because what mom wouldn’t want to see her first-born child marching across the field at The Big House. And so I went. I became the postal worker of football – through rain, snow, sleet, and dark of night, I was there. I’m usually the kind of person who does not voluntarily sit outside once the weather is colder than 60 degrees, but I went in all kinds of weather. Sometimes I had to slide a slab of ice off the bleacher before I could sit down. More than once  I sat in driving rain, wearing that true fashion statement, the rain poncho. Suddenly, I owned more cold-weather gear than Edmund Hillary. I bought hand-warmers by the case. But it wasn’t all cold work and no play. I got to go to the Rose Bowl with my whole family in 1998. And I got to spend countless hours with my boys as they were growing up, that I would have missed had I eschewed football for only girl things.

Huffygirl and new grandson Zach (© Huffygirl)

Today, I have  new football buddy. Grandson Zachary entered the world as we were heading down the highway to yet another Michigan game. As I sat shivering in the chilly wind, singing “Hail to the Victors” for the umpteenth time, I kept pulling out my phone to look at the picture of my sweet little newest Michigan fan. Before too long we’ll be able to toss a little football, and talk about quarterbacks, the secondary, and interceptions. I can’t wait. 

Huffygirl’s related football posts:

Satire Friday: The Most Stressful Job in America


What is the most stressful job in America? President? Pretty tough, but you’ve got a lot of advisors and sidekicks to help take the blame, er credit. Brain surgeon? Can’t say that I wouldn’t find it stressful to cut someone’s brain open, fix what’s broken and put it back together so everything still works. Air traffic controller? You’ve got all these planes in the air, lots of people talking to you at once, and you have to help the planes filled with people’s moms and dads and sisters and brothers fly and land safely without anyone crashing. How about the guy who carries around the briefcase with the missile launch codes? He’s always such a drag at parties with that briefcase handcuffed to his arm. “Care to dance?” “Sorry, I’ve got this thing strapped to me.” Nobody wants to take HIM home after the party. And just when he’s finally gotten used to carrying that darn case around, some pesky crisis arises and he has to bring it in so they can change the launch codes. Who’d want that job?

Well, turns out it’s none of the above. The most stressful job in America today is…drumroll… college football coach!. Yes, that’s it. We know it’s true, as evidenced by recent events at last week’s Michigan State University (MSU) versus Notre Dame game. Poor MSU coach Mark Dantonio was not feeling well. The game (and I emphasize the word GAME here) was dragging on, headed for OT. Coach D. just wanted to go home and lie down. He wasn’t sure what was wrong, just knew he was not feeling his usual chipper self. Maybe have a cup of tea, curl up with a blankie and then take a leisurely trip to ER. But noooo, after all, this is football.  Thousands of fans, alumni, the board of reagents, the television network and most importantly TV sponsors are counting on an exciting finish and an MSU win. Coach D. could not just skip out and let the assistants handle this. After all, it was an important GAME. So, chest pain aside, Coach D. soldiered on through regulation and into overtime. I suspect that what some called a gutsy winning play, the  Dan Conroy/Aaron Bates fake punt, was Coach’s desperate attempt to end the darn thing so he could finally get some morphine and an ambulance ride in peace.  

Winning college coaches are typically paid $1 million and up, to coach 90 students to kick and pass a ball well enough to win a GAME. Meanwhile, university presidents who are responsable for the well-being of thousands of students engaged in academic pursuits  that will shape the rest of their lives, receive median salaries of

Courtesy of Google

$436, 111. A significant chunk of change, but far less than coaches in most cases. 

Although the media reports that Dantonio will make a full recovery, the reality with heart attacks is this: time is muscle. For any delay in treatment, some heart muscle is lost for good. In Dantonio’s case, the amount of heart muscle lost was probably small. Yet, Dantonio is 54. He has a lot of years left for living, and presumably for  making millions in coaching. For a college kid’s game, is it worth it?

http://detnews.com/article/20100919/OPINION03/9190323/Mark-Dantonio-s-ordeal-is-evidence-of-the-high-toll-on-coaches

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/2007-12-04-coaches-pay_N.htm