Is There Football In Heaven?
“What a crybaby,” I mumbled to myself, shaking my head in disgust. At least I refrained from joining the cluster of parents, my husband included, who had gathered on the sidelines of the field, angrily discussing the fact that it would be our third embarrassing loss. Three games played, three lost, with no hope of ever winning if things continued as they were.
Yes, I am a typical sports moms. Being a parent of kids in sports brings out the worst in some people. Whenever there is a problem, it’s usually a result of the parents’ attitude, not the kids.
The assistant coach’s son, Ricky, was the starting quarterback. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, except he was a lousy quarterback. He didn’t have a good throwing arm, and seldom passed off the ball before getting tackled. Therein lay the problem, at least from my perspective. Whenever he got tackled, which was often, he would cry and moan, then be helped off the field by his dad, only to be put back in after a few minutes of pampering. I ask you, does that make sense? Not to be bragging, but our son, Danny, and Angelo’s son, Michael, were really better quarterbacks. Just ask anyone on the team.
Glancing at both coaches, Bob and Frank, who, by the way, are very good friends, I noticed that they were worriedly watching the group of parents. Frank, the head coach shook his head in dismissal, patted his friend’s shoulder, calling his team together to give a victory cheer for the opposing team.
The next week at practice, I sat with a group of moms while the dads paced the sidelines. We had lost again that weekend. Some of the parents were planning a confrontation with the coaches about Ricky. I really dislike conflict and strife, and prayed things would be settled peacefully. Part of me felt sorry for Ricky. I’m sure he knew the other eleven year old boys on the team didn’t like him and often made fun of him.
I hate gossip! I had been on the giving and receiving end of gossip. Both left me feeling terrible, but being the brunt of gossip was devastating. So why did I feel compelled to join in with the other moms that night? As a Christian, I should know better, right? But there I sat, throwing my opinion in, knowing I would regret it later.
Wouldn’t you know, just about then someone tackled Ricky and he flopped on the ground, crying as usual. His dad rushed onto the field, cradling Ricky’s head in his arms while he spoke into his ear. Helping him up, they walked off the field, got into their car and left. Whispering to each other, smug in our assessment of things, we all agreed it was just as well because now Danny and Michael could hopefully play quarterback this weekend.
Ricky’s dad returned alone at the end of practice and had a hushed conversation with Frank. Frank shook his head sadly and then hugged Bob. With head lowered, Bob trudged back to his car.
We looked anxiously at each other as Frank announced that he wanted to talk to us. Did he know we planned to confront him about Ricky? Well, perhaps it would make it easier if he did. Somehow though, I just did not have a good feeling about any of this.
Clearing his throat, Frank hesitantly started to speak. “Bob just told me that Ricky’s been admitted to the hospital.” You could hear a few gasps, and I’m positive I heard Michael’s dad snicker.
“I know you’ve all been wondering why we let Ricky play quarterback when he’s really not very good. We were hoping we wouldn’t have to tell anyone. We just want to let Ricky be a kid as long as he can. Ricky’s got leukemia. He’s always wanted to play quarterback, so we gave him his chance.” Frank’s voice broke and he couldn’t go on. We all stood there in hushed, shameful silence, the truth hitting us like a sledgehammer.
Danny and Michael got to play quarterback that weekend. It was the only game we won. Ricky returned and finished out the season. No one cared anymore if we lost. We cared about Ricky. You see, that was his last season to play. I’ve often wondered if there is football in heaven. I’d like to think Ricky is the best quarterback on God’s team.
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