Fourth and Goal

When he was younger my son was never really into watching sports. His eyesight is not good, so he’s never played competitive sports, but even with that he just seemed to be into other things. This was fine by me, as the other things he likes are geeky/nerdy. We still had plenty over which we could connect 1.

Over the last couple of years, however, my son has become more and more interested in sports. And he’s requested, on numerous occasions, for us to get cable so he could watch sports and follow our local teams. This was probably brought about by wanting to understand some of the conversations going on at school, but he also showed a growing understanding of the sports he follows 2. His interest was enough that when YouTube TV came out earlier this year I decided to give the service a try for a couple of months. It’s worked great, and we got to suffer though a dismal Phillies season together, as good Philly fans should.

And then came football season.

The Eagles were an unknown entity this year, and people didn’t know how the team would shape out. Would Wentz progress in his second year? Would the new receivers and running backs work out? Would our defense get better? Was our head coach decent, or a bit out of his league? All folks had were questions.

As the season progressed these questions were answered one after another. It’s been an amazing ride, which threatened to derail when Carson Wentz went down late in the year. But still we held out hope, and the team won enough games to earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs. It’s been thrilling, and my son’s been watching with me the whole way.

And then the Eagles were picked as underdogs, at home, when they had the best record in the NFL.

People were nervous. We just didn’t know how the game would go, but I knew my son and I would watch the game together. We took in the first half at the local pub 3, munching on a good lunch as a crazy half of football unfolded before our eyes. At halftime we headed home and watched the Bird’s defense stifle Atlanta once the game continued.

It was amazing. The Eagles backup Quarterback, Nick Roles, found his rhythm and lead the Eagles on scoring drives. A one point half-time deficit was transformed to a lead but, because the Eagles couldn’t get into the end zone, the lead wasn’t as large as it could have been. Only five points separated the teams when Matt Ryan took the Falcons’ offense on to the field with the game on the line. For a while it looked as if the latent fears of every Eagles fan, that we are a cursed people who can never win, was going to come true. The Falcon’s marched down the field, all the way down to the 2 yard line. Two Yards were all the space which separated the Falcons from a win.

And then came fourth down. Matt Ryan sprinted out, the Eagles defense swarmed, and the pass fell incomplete.

My son and I went nuts. Screaming and jumping and cheering as if it was us on the field who’d played the game. And that’s when I understood how glad I was that my son and I could freak out like that together. For the rest of our lives we can say, “Fourth and Goal on the 2,” and we can nod and smile and understand, “On that day, we were winners.”

I do think our culture spends far too much time and money on sports, but I also understand the draw. The bond which is created when we root for a team, sharing the emotions of both victory and defeat, is special. And I’m glad my son and I have been able to forge our own.


  1. Though as he’s gotten older he’s shifted into “all about gaming,” at which point I hit the, “You know, I don’t know about the best settings for FPS on your system. You’re the admin, what do you think?” wall. 
  2. His favorite is baseball, followed by football and hockey. 
  3. At his suggestion, he wanted to watch with a big crowd. 
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One thought

  1. That’s lovely! I never know what my children and I will connect over. For my scientist daughter who actually enjoys the American Girl stories. For my son, who sees the story in any little bit of paper he finds (“It’s a train ticket to the robot city. and the droids are having a coffee party! let’s go”). For my other son, who…um…likes peanut butter and books? Let’s go with that. 🙂

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