Football Injury Shortens Season For New Player

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 28, 2011

“He’ll get hurt,” a chorus of mothers cautioned me. Brain concussions. Broken bones. Skull fractures. Lifetime limps. They painted horror stories.
Mothers have emotional problems with football. Thus the term “Soccer Moms.”
My young bull is no soccer player. He has the build of a lineman.
The usual injury for a middle school lineman, I told the mothers, is a sprained ankle. My words became prophecy.
In the fourth game, Michael easily split the offensive line, and I settled onto the aluminum bleachers anticipating multiple quarterback sacks. A few plays later, his opponent dived for the ankles. Michael limped off awkwardly.
He has spent a month on crutches, now graduating to a protective boot. He will have nursed this ankle longer than he actually played.
Was it worth it?
Yes, a thousand times over, in his father’s opinion.
Michael has been in the huddle now. He has been in the locker room for the pre-game coach’s pep talk and prayer. He has pulled on the gear and pads and helmet of a football player and transformed into a hulking giant. If clothes make the man, football gear makes a grunting, gruff He-Man.
He looked good in orange.
Michael sacked the quarterback in the first game and ran off the field high-fiving the players and coaches. He screamed encouragement to his fellow players. He hustled during practice. He now knows something about the game. Before this season, he didn’t know a quarterback from a nose guard.
Before this season, he was safe. Has anyone sprained an ankle playing video games? From the sofa, boys don’t get bruises from tackles and going head-to-head with an opponent, wrestling for dominance until one or both falls to the turf. From the air-conditioned security of home, boys don’t sweat and stink from practices on 90 degree late summer days.
He didn’t play long enough to suit up against North Davie’s archrivals. He watched from the sidelines during the “Orange Bowl” with South Davie. The season ended with him still nursing the ankle.
I bear full responsibility. I was the one who encouraged …