The Old Geezer
by Walt Trandum
Fall is here, and let the football games begin. Kids, both big and small, can test themselves with a chance to show what they are made of! Hot dogs and pop corn are the best training tools for the observers.
It was kind of a strange weekend a few weeks ago when we witnessed some of the first games of the season for many football teams. Sunday was particularly different for this displaced Husky, who has learned to live in the land of Ducks and Beavers. Neither of those teams had very much good fortune on Saturday, and the Dogs managed to win their game rather handily that fateful day.
Sunday, while I was relishing my first winning day in many years, I decided to watch another Washington team win their first game. It was a pretty exciting day right up to the end and something went wrong and the Seahawks lost their way. I decided that their biggest problem is that those games are just a couple minutes too long. They look really good for most of the game and then they collapse. I can imagine that their camp is a bit tense after that screwball loss, on top of their loss last year in the really big game.
Football was my favorite sport when I was a teenager. I was too small to play High School ball, but there was a Boy’s Club league in Seattle with teams from various neighborhoods. My team was Lake City, which was in the northeast part of Seattle. We had a volunteer coach, who’s day job was being a Deputy Sheriff. A man who stood over 6’5” and weighed in at about 300 pounds. I never did hear about what his playing career entailed, but he was a good guy and knew a lot about the game. We played on a dirt field behind a school and our uniforms were all hand me downs from some place. We did have team jerseys for game days, but the rest of the time we probably looked like comic team with various parts of uniforms that didn’t fit all that well. There was nothing that resembled a face mask and those leather helmets didn’t offer much protection. One guy had an iron bar to try and protect his nose after it was broken several times.
Something I never will forget was the agony and pain that racked my body the morning after our first scrimmage. Everything hurt and getting back out on the field the next afternoon was quite a challenge. Maybe that is where I gained some of the toughness that came into play later in my Navy days when I trained to be a submarine swimmer.
Football is really a rough sport, but nothing when you compare it to Australian Football. They spend all their time moving on the field and there are no huddles and the game doesn’t stop every few seconds. When I saw them play 40 years ago, I was amazed at how skimpy their padding was compared to what we use on this side of the pond. I noted that some of our teams have recruited Australian kickers and when I watched them in action it was obvious from the way they move that they came from down under.
There is a lot of concern for the safety of the players both young and old who suffer head injuries. I know there was been a great amount of research and rules have been made to protect them, but I have what I think might be the root of the problem. I am thinking that players have too much protection with all the pads and head gear that they are wearing. They have become what could be considered a “guided missile.” Perhaps, those tackles and blocks would not be so severe if the person making the play thought they might just hurt themselves.
Another weekend has passed since I started this article. It proved to be a disaster for both the Ducks and the Beavers again. Probably, a lot tougher on their backers than on the players. I remember playing on a team that did not score a touchdown our first year. The next year we won half our games, and the third year were the champions. Good things sometimes take a little time and the rewards are even greater for those who love a winner!