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Cam Marston on the Results of Last Week's High School Football Game

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On this week’s Keepin’ It Real, Cam updates us on his son’s high school football team. They survived and advanced and play again tonight.

If you heard last week’s commentary, you might like to know that my sons’ football team won their playoff game in an upset in Montgomery Friday night. My favorite oldest son, a wide receiver, made a nice catch on a screen play and was tackled from behind by a savage mountain of a full-grown man. My son said it was a clean hit and was all good, but…I can’t bring myself to like that guy. I’m going to have a hard time liking anyone that smashes my favorite oldest son to the ground. My wife and I both said, at nearly the same time, “Wow, he got walloped,” and that’s because what we heard when my sweet little boy got hit by a mountain of a full-grown man sounded like WALLOP. My son bounced to his feet and trotted back to the huddle, hoping the ball would come his way again. My wife and I sat frozen in the stands hoping it wouldn’t.

When they upset last week’s opponent, parents like me felt like we were awarded with a bonus week plus a home game. Like last week, this week could be the last game of their season, and the last football game of my senior’s career. If tonight is the last game, it’s only fitting that it finishes on the field where the seniors began playing as children years ago. It was a while back but only a flash in my memory. Wearing their helmets, they looked like bobble head dolls.

A friend counsels professional and elite collegiate athletes on their transition from sports into the everyday world. When their careers end, many of them struggle with identity. Without sports, who am I, they ask? What do I do with my time? What’s my purpose? I fear for some of this with some of the kids on the field tonight. They’ve played this game, on this team, with these people since they were about eight years old. What happens when it’s over? Some will have no problems with the transition, eager and curious about their next chapter of life. Others will struggle to let it go. You see them today as adults, living vicariously through their children who are out there on the field. That identity must be a powerful hold. I was never an athlete, so I can’t really relate.

However, I’m not immune. When my favorite oldest daughter played her final volleyball match, I sighed and then went on to the next in line. What happens when my favorite youngest son and favorite youngest daughter are done with sports when they transition out? So much time has been spent cheering for them on the sidelines that I worry a little about myself. It’s become a part of my identity, too. Who will I become? What will I do with all this newfound time?

I don’t know. I guess acknowledging that an inevitable transition is ahead is valuable in and of itself. Until then, though, I’m all in.

Good luck tonight, boys. I love you both. I’ll be in the stands with many others just like me, screaming my head off, hoping for all of us that tonight won’t be the last night.

I'm Cam Marston, and I'm just trying to Keep It Real.

Cam Marston is the Keepin' It Real host for Alabama Public Radio.