As a transplant to Cincinnati, I’m just not up on all the parishes and schools and football rivalries, even after almost 20 years. Though I do have the Elder-Moeller-St. X thing figured out — I think.
But grade school football, itself, is new to me. I don’t even know if there WAS grade school football where I grew up. Until a couple of years ago I didn’t know kids strapped on pads and donned helmets in third and fourth grade. Boy, do they!
My son just finished his second year of football playing for the CYO Division II City Champion Reserve team, the St. Bartholomew Panthers. He knows a lot more plays than I do (not a difficult feat) and he can play several positions (much more impressive). He’s learned a lot about sportsmanship and working hard and being gracious in victory and don’t I sound like a greeting card? But it’s true. We’ve played all around the city against kids of all backgrounds, on back-lot fields like our home field and in spectacular stadiums such as the truly amazing Summit Country Day complex.
Remember that great scene in Rudy when the Notre Dame football team says the Hail Mary, and then the priest says “Our Lady of Victory –” and all the players shout, “Pray for us!” Well, our team doesn’t do that. But they do pray the Our Father together at every practice and before every game. And at a time when churches everywhere seem more and more the province of women and whispey, “spiritual” men, I find the prospect of 22 hardy young men in football gear saying the Our Father to be a reassuring one. The Catholic church is for everyone.