Friendship, Journal

Football Might Bring Us to the Stadium; But Community is What Gives it Life

When I walk into church, I am reminded that this place isn’t solely me and God. God is the reason I’m there, to worship Him in all of his glory, but it takes on life because of the surroundings—I am moved by the music, feel the reverence, grow through the worship, join in the celebration of my Creator, and most of all, I find imperfect people around me who are trying to grow a community.

Likewise, when I walk into a stadium, I know this place isn’t just about football. Football is the reason we’re brought together, to cheer on the game and its players, but it takes on life because of the surroundings—I am moved by the music, join in with the cheerleaders, become gracious in a win, remain respectful in a loss, join in the celebration of our school, and most of all, I also find imperfect people around me who are trying to grow a community.

We pride ourselves as sideline wives uplifting both the wife who is “making the snack bags, signs, and crock pot chili for an entire team” and the wife “wearing her pajamas while couch surfing and feeding her kids cereal for dinner.” Fact is, they are both perfectly acceptable.

Likewise, when your coach lets his players go to a dance all night before the big game versus the coach who’s telling them how to eat and get to sleep the night before doesn’t make them wrong it makes them different. Fact is, they, too, are both acceptable.

I’m a band wife, and I’ve been engaged the last few weeks in accusations that bands are making the wrong decisions, doing the wrong thing, playing the wrong tune, and most heartbreaking, they simply aren’t “Friday Night Lights.” 

My heart breaks when I hear these things. Not just band alone but cheerleading too. I feel as if the community who supports football is being made to feel inferior to the football team and staff who play each week.

I hear, often, the Football Wife saying, “HE is the coach. Not You.” Which I generally read as, “He’s doing the best job he can and with the best of intent, it’s just different from how you would do it and that’s okay. He wins. Because it’s his job and he is at the decision maker.” I agree.

Lately, there is a growing minority of people implying, “You better show up to the football game and support us and expect little in return, because football is your job.”

This is football season, but lest we forget the others who support this tradition, those who are also competing for titles of their own, and who ask not for fans, or any support—but want to be accepted, not forced, for their contribution at a football game.

Marching band. Cheer squads. Choir groups. Security. Concessions.

It is true, football is why we show up, but these band directors, cheer coaches, choir leaders, etc. and the decisions they make deserve respect and acceptance too. Because it’s their job and they are the decision makers.

I believe both factions, football coaches and their supporting counterparts, come to the field with good intent to do their job well and without conflict. Who are we to throw others, even from our same school, under the bus?

We all are on the same team, we all want to share in the highs and lows, rather than being made to feel “required to be there.”

How many times have you “flipped the script” and walked in the other person’s shoes before being quick to judge?

Why are we so willing to accept “cereal for dinner” as okay? It’s because we know what that wife’s walk looks like. 

Apply that train of thought when you’re seething as a band parent leaves after halftime or you see parents not cheering along with the cheer squad. 

Before you give away your own happiness, cross the track and say hello. 

I’m betting that “the things you’ve heard” and “assumptions that have been made” don’t hold water. Step into their shoes. Understand their story.

I’m all for letting off a little steam with other sideline wives, but what about extending a little grace?

God wants us to forgive and live happily and trumpet His glory. Don’t be so fast to cast the first stone, we are all likely to be culprits of supporting “our own” from time to time. 

Band parents support their band kid.

Football moms are rallying for their player.

Too often we demonstrate if you don’t think like us, then you’re not going to be family with us. 

As sideline wives, we are leaders in our community—we set the example, when we become the amplifiers of negativity, we’re merely paying forward the message that dividing our community is okay. When we exemplify God’s will, we drive out the dissonance, and unite. 

Dr. King says it beautifully: “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

I may not know which stitch to bring a jersey back to life with, I may never know what the heck “backfield in motion” means.

But you can bet I know what it’s like to lose a student to suicide, or watch their college dreams become reality, or what it’s like to have my husband live this calling. I cry reading your painful moments and applaud you in your victories.

I am infinitely in awe of what Football Wives manage and what I have learned from you. That is what life is about—learning from others who share so much in common and prepare us for those things we have yet to experience.

Being grateful and better for the knowledge and love we share as a result of these differences is what this wife community is about. Football wives who learn from basketball wives who learn from band wives who learn from hockey wives who learn from track wives who learn from other football wives.

Learn. Not judge. Enjoy. Not demand. Different. Not wrong.