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For grandson, football is a game of full contact

The cycle continues; our grandson Major, the eight-year-old son of Eli and Katie, appears to be following in his dad’s athletic steps. He loves sports and winning — just like his parents.

Even though he’s only 8 years old, he has an impressive understanding of football and the drive to outscore his opponent. Othel and I witnessed that this week when we traveled to an away game to watch Major’s Lions team play.

Flag football has been Major’s only means of showing his talents for the past two years, but he’s already dreaming of helmets and shoulder pads. As a grandparent, it’s hard to share in his anticipation of such a physical contact clash of young bodies, but his love of the sport leads him to relish the thought of wearing football’s full body “armor.”

I’ve heard coaches say that football players have to be tough, even mean-spirited in their determination to outplay their competitor. There’s no tip-toeing or soft contact with the pigskin plays. I’ve even heard Othel say repeatedly, “It’s a sport you have to play with reckless abandon.”

When I think of that mindset paired with Major’s tender heart, I can’t make the two qualities reconcile. On a recent game, a player on the opposite team was running with the football while being chased by all the players on Major’s team.

A lunging yank by one of Major’s teammates at the flag on the young player’s waist was with so much “vigor” the yank pulled the player’s shorts to his knees. It was a keenly embarrassing moment for the child.

I’m sure there were muffled chuckles by most of the players except for the “victim” and Major. When Major realized the humiliation his opponent was experiencing, Major bolted from his own team’s huddle and ran over to him. A few pats on the back and some communication were all that the fans saw.

I saw much more. For Major it’s a sport of physical as well as “heart” contact. I pray he’ll always play the sport demonstrating both.

Letters to Camille Anding can be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS, 39602, or e-mailed to camille@datalane.net.