Welcoming a New School Year and the Lessons Football Teaches Us

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We’ve all done it this week—re-adjusted to driving 20 mph in school zones after a summer of driving right past the signs that caution us to slow down. Although my work day starts before school zone time, I’ve thought about the renewed blinking yellow lights that caution us to pay attention.

We race through life it seems, now more than ever. When I was a child, I remember my parents planned for plenty of time to get me to school. Today, I see parents waiting in drop-off lines that are so long. They’re stressed out, worried about how they’ll manage their jobs, children’s after-school activities, dinner, and homework, all by day’s end. We’re all leading busier, up-to-the-minute lives now.

As in love with my cell phone as I am, and my wife Chelsea will agree, I miss the times when the phone didn’t drive our schedules us as much as it seems. Alarms, bells and tones sound, reminding something is ahead that we’d planned. Most of the time, it’s a grand plan. Don’t be late, wake up early, arrive early, plan ahead. Great—but it takes practice and ritual to set plans in motion so we aren’t rushed or aggrieved when we arrive at our destination.

The beauty of football (Aggie, Buccaneer, and Brazos Valley schools) is that it is a game that takes its time. In four quarters there’s plenty of breaks between plays. For months we see hopeful youths strengthening and conditioning themselves, every day, preparing for challenges ahead. If we see them injured, they usually come back, after care, and they don’t take a single moment of play for granted. By game time, they’re prepared and their eyes are on victory. That’s really how life should be, isn’t it? Another football season has arrived, a time for preparation, renewal, teamwork, and rejoicing! Take time to savor every moment of the game, and of life.

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Stop, Look, and Listen—one of the first rules of the road that we teach children as soon as they can understand what we are saying. We know that children need us to help them navigate their space inside their home, so we hold their hands, and when we go outside, we tell them to play and stay in the backyard, and we sit there while they’re in the backyard to assure they don’t leave the backyard.

When they get old enough to go for car rides, we buckle them in their car seats and after we arrive at our destination, we unbuckle them, and either carry them or take them by the hand as we walk them to the “safe area” of a playground or another friend’s home. And then we explore, still with our eyes on them. Safety first, right?

All around us children are beginning to learn the rules of competitive sports. This week the City of Bryan’s Parks and Recreation Department is registering children ages 3-5 (whether they live in Bryan or not) for Pee Wee baseball, basketball, and soccer programs (check it out at   http://www.bryantx.gov/parks-and-recreation/) and I have to say that I’m a giant fan of starting children out early learning the rules of life, beginning with how to compete and be a good sport.

How many times have you gone to Aggie football games and seen folks from the opposing team (or sometimes our team!) become these crazed, rude people who believe their opinion should be yelled, repeated, yelled and repeated? At least we can help new young minds to learn the right way to compete in sports, early, so they can grow up and compete as adults in life, without embarrassing themselves. Food for thought to be sure.

When I’m cheering for our Aggies, some of it starts by reflex. The yell leaders are out there signaling the call for what to do and I find myself smiling sometimes at how we all immediately follow the rules. I’m proud that Aggies don’t “boo” the opponents (or the referees). The horse laugh is far better and pretty funny when it’s time to call it. Sometimes you wonder what people watching on TV think about us, if they’re not from here. But that doesn’t deter us from going right on ahead and cheering for our teams here at home.

I am a team player at heart; soccer was the game in my youth where I spent most of my time, plus there’s golf. Thank goodness I was lucky enough to find my wife, who not only indulges my love for all sports; she’s right there with me cheering her Aggies together with me. Life is good. I also keep an eye out on the Sam Houston Bearcats and Blinn Buccaneers to see how they do as well. Did I mention I love football?

Congratulations to all the parents out there who teach their children “the rules” of sports, like the rules of life. The rules never change, really. And, to those sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, and neighbors who teach children how to “Stop, look, and listen” to watch out for hazards in life, thank you. May we ever be mindful of how to be team players and to look for warning signs that will keep us free from harm.

Are you ready for some football? I am. Good luck to all our teams competing this week, and Gig ‘em Aggies!

Cody D. Jones ‘02

Owner and Community Member