A Girl and Her Football
I love my balls: soccer balls, softballs, and footballs. Yes, yes, games with other balls exist—basketball, baseball, lacrosse, tennis, croquet, cricket, kick ball, Ping-Pong, bowling, polo, rugby, dodge ball, hand ball, racquetball, billiards, volley ball and lest I forget—golf. Certainly, there are more…but I digress.
I played soccer as a teenager. When I graduated from high school, my soccer career ended—or fútbol as it’s called around most of the globe. After college, I joined a softball league on my home turf. With much practice, I became a pitcher—and I loved it. Until my mid-forties, I pitched for two teams. Because of this history, I’m personally acquainted with two great balls. As with children I’m told, love is equal, just different. I played softball far longer because there was much less running to strain my aging body.
But I love footballs most of all. Being born when I was, I never played football beyond neighborhood pick-up games. Today there’s a professional football league for females. I’m truly envious. If I were twenty-five again, I’d be out there running, sweating, and pounding my way to a roster spot—or at least I’d give it my best shot. In the 1970s and 1980s, my brothers participated in adolescent male collisions every weekend from September to December—legally no less. Assaults like that off the football field (or even during halftime) would lead to an arrest. Perhaps my infatuation with football would not exist had I been able to play something besides the piano, Scrabble, Crazy Eights or Monopoly during winter months. Who knows?
The men who play professional football love it. Although bones break, ACLs and MCLs rip, ribs bruise, muscles tear, sprains happen, and concussions occur repeatedly—they love the game. And faithful fans like me cheer like maniacs. Players and thousands of other people who never don shoulder pads or helmets make millions of dollars every season. For a player, is the chance to reside in Canton forever worth the pounding? That’s a very personal question, but I never left a field unless I was seriously injured. For me, it would be worth it.
On a cool September morning approximately ten years ago, I stopped in an aisle of my local drug store. Eager to read about the upcoming season, I snatched a football magazine from the rack. Peyton Manning, as a Colt, graced the cover. Moments later, a man about my age remarked, “I love seeing a woman read a football magazine. I’d give anything for my girlfriend to like football.” I thanked him. Women who love football are not as rare as he believes. We really aren’t—or at least I like to think so.
Ann E. Fowler
August 28, 2017