Sundays during youth football season are like a marathon but backwards. First the sprint: it begins at 7:30am when I shove the car full of stuff I need to bring to the field. In between trips to the car I’m screaming at the ten year-old to put on his uniform. This morning the mother of the house was at work so the boy only had one parent yelling at him.
Once at the field it’s a mad rush to set everything up before the first games begin. For me it’s setting up three tables of HogGear (team shirts, jackets, hats, sweatshirts, etc) and lining up twenty items of clothing along the fence for people to try on for sizing.
I have mailboxes for the newsletter that I write. I place them at various locations at both fields. Then I make sure that the trash cans are all emptied and have liners in them. I put up signs warning people to stay off of the field and track unless they are helping out, coaching, playing, or are members of the cheerleading squad. There’s a small crew that helps with the set-up and between us all we manage to get the Snack Shack running, set up two football fields with markers and other orange things and get the announcer’s booth ready to speak to the crowds.
The pace slows once everything is dressed up. The ten year-old’s game was one of two that began the day. His Grandfather and the 25 year-old were at the game today. I usually try and watch the boys entire game. That means I wait until halftime to walk down to the other field and pass out newsletters. I know… what are the mailboxes for if I’m still going to walk around handing them out. Well it’s just a habit I guess. I like mingling with the parents and hearing what’s on people’s minds on a Sunday morning in October. Sometimes I get questions about a rule or a comment about something I may have written the week before. Regardless if it’s a complaint or a compliment, I like to know what our parents think about how the league is being run and if they are enjoying the experience.
After two hours of screaming at the boy to tackle, hit, and block SOMEBODY… ANYBODY… MAYBE EVEN THE KID IN FRONT OF HIM… I walk over to my HogGear table and either take new orders or hand out merchandise that was ordered earlier. By then the second set of games are beginning and I’m handing out the newsletter again and talking with parents. Besides watching my own kid play, talking to parents about the league is my favorite part of the day. Even when the conversation is about something that the parent dislikes about the league, it’s still a learning experience for me and I take something away from it.
Often there are issues regarding conflicts between referees, coaches, parents, dogs, birds, squirrels, and sometimes even a player. Sometimes they have to be taken care of immediately while other times it’s a matter of collecting information from various sources before anything can be done.
During all of this I like to visit the announcer’s booth where I’ll plug in my iPod and play some stupid song snippet or sound effect between plays. There’s always trash to pick up… trash cans to empty… trash… lots of trash.
Finally after the third set of games have ended, everything gets picked up and packed away. By then it’s about eight hours later and I’m cranky and my ankle feels like it’s about to explode like a blood-filled tick (I only use that analogy because we just pulled one from the dog’s head yesterday).
So that’s just a glimpse into a typical Sunday during the youth football season. If you’ve taken nothing else away from this today, let it be that when someone asks you if you want to join the board of a youth organization, tell them you are a drunk and use recreational drugs.
I wish I had thought of that over ten years ago.
(I just called the dad of a player that was injured and taken to the hospital earlier today. He has a broken leg. They seem to be taking it very well. I lose sleep over injuries like this. I’ve known the family for years. They’re lovely people. Injuries are part of the game but as a league administrator and parent, it hurts. Suddenly I feel like an idiot for complaining about my ankle.)