Doolin: A season put into perspective
BY JOHN DOOLIN Guest Columnist October 25, 2012 2:22PM
John Doolin is an Oak Forest resident and the South Division advertising director for Sun-Times Media.
Updated: November 29, 2012 6:18AM
I knew it was going to be one of those weeks when I was on the golf course and the person I was playing with asked me if I had heard a local football and cheerleading program had banned “pink,” because the athletic director labeled it a “distraction.”
My wife had gone through a breast cancer scare the week prior so the cause and the wearing of pink to observe National Breast Cancer month was fresh on my mind.
And then it was Sunday, the final day of the regular season for my youngest son’s youth football league of which I’m one of the coaches.
As we went into the fourth quarter ahead by 14, all we needed was a first down so we could essentially run out the clock, wrap up a great 5-2 season and move on to the playoffs.
Up the middle we go, and then there was the crash — the head-to-head collision everybody fears.
Both players fell to the field and you could have heard a pin drop, if it wasn’t for the grandparent yelling words not fit for print.
“Please move,” I said to myself.
One player got up relatively quickly and the other, Gav, looked confused. It was clear the hit far exceeded what his young head could take.
As the ambulance pulled up, we tried to assure him it was all precautionary and everything was going to be OK.
In that moment, things were in perspective.
The games don’t matter. Win, lose or draw, I don’t know how many times we have to tell people it’s just a football game for youths. Yet, some people can’t help themselves in expressing disdain for referees, other coaches, parents or players.
It’s in a letter we start to understand what the kids themselves are thinking.
Two weeks back, my son had been “mouthy” on the football field and as I removed him from the game we exchanged words through the earpiece of the helmet never really letting anyone else know we were engaged in a debate about his behavior.
When we got home we had one last discussion on the day’s events as I have tried throughout my youth coaching career to leave it at the field. I told him he needed to apologize to his teammates.
He chose to do so in a letter. The front of the letter said, “Dad” and inside it simply stated:
“I’m sorry how I acted on Sunday. I didn’t mean anything toward you, the team or anyone else. The game gets in my head when we are losing and sometimes I can control it, and sometimes I can’t.
“My actions were not very nice toward the team, or anyone else. I disappointed all of you, and especially my Dad. And once again I sorry.”
All the coaches and the players who were affected got the letter. I thought if we could all look back, reflect on a decision we made and either in person or in a letter apologize for our actions, what a different world we would live in.
Sunday, after I had come home from the hospital, an emotional and worried son asked me how Gav was.
I told him Gav had a concussion and he could not play in next week’s playoff game.
My son looked at me and said, “I would rather end our season today, and have Gav OK then have to continue on without him.”
Good luck to all football teams in the playoffs.
Win or lose, put the Eight Sunday Syndrome behind you, and let the playoffs be enjoyed by the kids, parents and all involved.
Sometimes it takes an 11- year-old to put it all in perspective.
…. Love. Dad
John Doolin is an Oak Forest resident and South Division advertising director for Sun-Times Media.