Saturday, September 17, 2016

Growing up football

I love football. Not in the way people from Texas love football, but I love the atmosphere of Friday night lights. I grew up in a place where high school games were THE social event and midget football sucked us into the culture.

In fact, I was a cheerleader for many years until I hung up my poms for a basketball -- and then I joined the varsity football team as the statistician.

So I get it. I love the games, and I get the culture. 

For the last few years I've been watching youth football through the lens of a cheer parent. It's hard for this feminist to watch traditional gender roles develop. Yet this is what I do every week.

I listen as a football dad points out the segregation between the cheer parents, sitting at one end of the field, and the football parents, sitting at the other.

I watch my daughter performing, not learning the game or engaging in it as a member of the "boy" team.

I watch the boys grunting as they run, full force, through a banner held by the girls and cheer coaches discussing making the banner larger so the girls don't get hurt.

I wonder about the culture where boys are yelled at to "kill someone" in the same space where girls are admonished to have "smiles on lips and hands on hips."

I can't help but remember lifetime movies where cheerleaders are abused by football players.

And I hope, beyond hope, that our generation isn't perpetuating the gender roles that make this kind of behavior acceptable.

I grew up "football," and I love the game. And I wonder how we can do better beyond the game for both our boys and our girls. 

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