The pop warner football season has begun. Groups of toddlers and teens are gathering to form teams of potential pro-stars. It’s so hilarious to watch six year olds hauling around bags full of equipment bigger than themselves to the sidelines of high school football stadiums.
My son has played for several years. This year is actually his last year before he moves on to a high school team. As a parent it’s been an enjoyable journey to watch him develop from a big as the bag baby to the intimidating wall of a player. And as much work as it is for our entire family, I truly enjoy watching him hit the field in the fall.
As it is in many youth sports, parents break the banks preparing for youth football season. Aside from registration fees, (that’s not included in the equipment) football can be costly. And the bigger the child the more money you’re likely to pay. So, last week I took on the task of taking my child shopping for cleats. The entire drive all he talked about was the new Cam Newton’s. Now I watch some pro-ball but I have no idea who Cam Newton is or what his shoes look like. And I surely didn’t know how much these coveted shoes cost. But I felt in my heart that there was going to be a moment of shock and disappoint ahead for both my son and me.
We walked into the sporting goods store straight to the shoe section and on an isolated display perched on an elevated pedestal stood the new silver and black Under Armour Cam Newton cleats. My son walked directly over to the metallic shoe. I looked up at the worker and asked how much are these? He casually replied, “One sixty.”
All I can say is, that I really tried. I tried to keep my jaw from hitting the floor. I tried to keep my eyes from bugging out the socket. I tried not to overreact and embarrass my son in the store. But as my heart had warned, my shock was unmistakable and before I could catch myself my voice rose and octave and I clarified, “One hundred and sixty dollars?”
In the same instance my son is preparing his puppy dog eyes and bottom lip to softly sing, “Please mom?” Now I have no problem buying my son name brand items. But two things would be required in this sort of situation to go in his favor. The first is for my son to show an elevated level of responsibility. He needed to prove that he can be responsible enough to properly care for such and investment. The second thing is he would need is his OWN job. And my child doesn’t have either one of these. So he left the sporting store with a reasonably priced pair of Adidas cleats.
After that shopping experience I thought about all it takes to make a young football star. All the equipment that parents buy, all the money invested in their kids’ futures as pro-athletes. After paying for registration, gas to take them to all the practices and games, girdles, cleats, practice pants, cups, pads, arm bands, gloves, matching socks and whatever else they need to be successful, parents are just hoping their kids look like a star. I’m just praying for the day that I can write these items off on my taxes.
Who knew that youth sports would not only be so profitable but would head out to make such a fashion statement? As we approach our first official game day I’m just waiting to see how many silvery name brand high top cleats will grace the football field. I wonder what the damage will be to the household budgets all to dress these young players for game success. And most of all I wonder with all the parental endorsements and sponsorship invested, how many players will actually be stars.
This year, my son will be making his own statement. He will have to stand out not through fashion but through hard work and dedication on the field. My goal is for him to shine through achievement not by having the shiniest shoes in the stadium. And until I can get a tax deduction for youth sports and all the “necessary “ equipment, fashion will not be a factor on the field.