Capture the Flag


Talk about persistence. This guy has it. I don’t even read books in this genre, but I’m going to buy his book and set it on my nightstand so that it’s the first thing I see in the morning, and the last thing I see before I go to bed.

I’ve spent the last three days not even touching my essay. I’ve been walking around belly-aching about the thing. I think I’m going to have to start all over, again, and tell my agent it’ll be a few more weeks. Which is probably better than turning in something awful, and much easier than rewriting a novel over and over again.

Mel recently wrote a post that resonated with me. Do you remember the Nike commercial, If you let me play sports?

My 8-year old is a very athletic girl who thus far has had no interest in any of the team sport leagues around here. Back in December, on one of the few warm days, she played football with a bunch of dads and sons. She came into the house later that day and announced, I want to play football, Mom.

Surprised by this revelation, I blurted out, I don’t think girls can play football. What I meant was, I don’t know if there’s a co-ed league nearby. (What I actually said, appalled me. Did I not learn anything from Nike?)

That night I did some googling, and discovered a co-ed flag football league that had practices and games near our house.

We signed her up.

Her first game was this Saturday. She was the only girl on the field.

From the sidelines, I observed some fairly painful scenes of my daughter in competition. Though she was one of the fastest kids, whenever she got within range to pull the flag on the opposing team member holding the ball, she would stop, and back up, and let someone else do it.

Is this because it’s her first game? I wondered. Or because she thinks that as a girl, she’s not supposed to be aggressive?

My husband leaned into me and whispered, We’ve got to work on this with her.

Uh-huh, I said.

For the last play of the game, the quarterback was going to hand her the ball. Please, I thought, don’t let her drop the ball.

He turned around. She took the ball…

And began running in the wrong direction.

Other way, other way! the entire sideline of parents started screaming. She got our cue, and headed back up the field, crossing back over the line of scrimmage.

And she kept going, outrunning boys who had been playing football for three and four seasons. Outrunning boys who were taller. Outmaneuvering boys who were faster.

She made it to the end zone..

Afterward, several of the boys came up to her. Nice touchdown, they waved. See you next week.

Thanks, she mumbled, with the mouthpiece still in her mouth.

Perhaps this will be the only season I will ever watch my daughter play football. But this one touchdown is enough victory for me to last a lifetime.

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