There are few teams I cheer for, but you can count Wichita-area youth football squads among them. Colts, Bears, Wolverines, Cowboys, Tigers, Bulldogs, St. Francis, Mary Magdalene... I don't care who they are, those are my guys (and girls, if they want to play) every day of the week.
And while basketball will always remain No. 1 in our fair city (and rightfully so), football is a noble second. And it starts with the kids. For a minimal fee, we commit to giving these children pads, fields and coaches. Call me a socialist, but I wish it was free. The relationships the kids are able to build at a young age prove invaluable later.
That's why this next story gets me kind of fired up.
I happened to run into the coach of one of the above teams — undisclosed grade level, undisclosed squad — and asked him how things were going. He said he was doing sign-ups for next season and while that was going well, he was running into some problems securing playing fields.
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The reason? They might have to take a backseat to adult-league flag football.
Some dudes want to recreate their Springsteen/Al Bundy glory days by using the same city-owned fields the kids used to play their games on last year. Their money, it seems, would spend just as easy as that of the hard-working parents scraping together the $500 or so it would cost to put their kid on a youth team for the year.
And Al, you can bet, was willing to pay.
I write all of this with a scowl on my face. My temperature flushes upward as I type these sentences. So I want to be real clear about what I'm about to say.
There is no more pathetic existence than that of your run-of-the-mill, middle-aged Weekend Warrior who would somehow think it was OK to participate in a league that denied a group of football neophytes — little kids — the opportunity to actually play in games that contribute to the fundamental development of our youth.
You know, the people who will be taking care of us when we get older?
So if you find yourself, Flag Football Guy, running toward glory on some Saturday morning at a public park in the near future, I boo you, sir, in advance.
If, while the next Barry Sanders or Kamerion Wimbley is looking for a place to play on some beautiful fall day as you pound Bud Lights every time you get a "sack," I award you zero points in the game of life and may the Gods of Football have mercy on your soul, assuming you still have one.