We just returned home from Brayden's football game. It was a 7pm start time, which makes it a late one to begin with, but when the game is put on hold for 45 minutes so that one of the players can be taken from the field, taped tight to a stretcher to impede any movement and hauled to the ER in an ambulance- the game becomes infinitesimally longer, both physically and emotionally.
This game was a big deal from the start. We'd faced these "Goliaths" in the Jamboree (when it's all just "practice" and scores don't count) and had been sorely defeated. That's the last time that's happened to us, in fact, up until this game, no one's been able to even score against us. But, even more than that little factor of "payback" is this ugliness that has permeated the entire division regarding this particular team. It seems like every team we've played has had something to say about what they've done, or, on a couple of occasions, the coaches themselves have shown up and "scouted" us at our games - trash talking our team to themselves while a certain photographer has stood anonymously next to them - catching all of the sordid conversation (that would be my hubby). On top of recruiting unethically, they've disregarded MRP rules (minimum play requirements) which means only their best players play.
This particular fact was of special significance to me because I had volunteered for the opposing team MPR role, which means I look over the shoulder of their MPR record-keeper, and make sure they are being honest about it. It also means I have to stand on their side of the field, right next to the coaches, and be exposed to all of the ugly, unsportsmanlike conduct taking place. It was a toxic environment, for sure - and if there was any call made by a ref against them, it was only because the refs were on "our side" and "who's ever heard of a call like that".... One particular call in mention was for leading in a hit with the helmet. Their coaches were disgusted with the call, and after mentioning it to John during the aforementioned break in the game, he showed me the picture he took that evidenced their illegal hit. It was all I could do not to march that camera over to those coaches and demand their apologies for not only harassing the refs, but for teaching their kids such poor sportsmanship. ESPECIALLY, after our own player, Tanner - one of Brayden's best and longest-lasting-friendship friends, was the one that went down - hard. While I have no reason to believe his injury was a direct result of poor play, it lit a fire in me of anger as to coaches who only care about the win - who's only goal is to "take us down" - because we have been the dominant team for way too many years.
To cut to the chase - we believe Tanner is going to be okay. He was immediately moving all of his extremities - which obviously rules out worse-case-scenario. Based on the texts we've gotten from his family at the ER, they've ruled out a concussion and are leaning towards a sprained neck diagnosis - however, at last update, he'd yet to have x-rays. I didn't know who was the one injured for the longest time because I was on the opposing sideline and new jerseys handed out last night mixed up some of their player numbers. Once I found out, my heart ached for my pal, Nancy - Tanner's mom. But, when I saw him strapped to the board, helmet still intact and taped down, that was what tore my heart out.
Our team is much smaller than that opposing team. While there's no doubt we have talent and excellent coaching, we are not especially tall, and not especially big on the line. But, tall and big aren't all that is required to win a game. Heart plays a huge role - and we have that in abundance. And, let me tell you, once Tanner went down - there's no way his team was going to fail him. Despite two more of our boys getting the wind knocked out of them - and one more potential ankle injury - we took home the win, 12-0. While numbers don't generally matter to me, it was huge statement I'm glad we made to keep them from scoring. It pains me that the boys on that team had to suffer a loss, because those boys have heart too. But, their coaches....well, that's up for debate as far as I'm concerned.
I will keep you all posted on the end result of Tanner's diagnosis - and in the meantime, we're all very thankful for your prayers.....
FINAL DIAGNOSIS: bad cervical strain....thank God that was the extent of the injury....