We weren’t made to be ordinary… and bit about football and friendships

It’s no secret: I far prefer the drama of October’s postseason playoffs, wild-cards, and World Series compared to that other game. I’ll forever choose diamonds over pigskins, but despite its second-longest season in professional sports, baseball can’t go forever. Football is here to get us through until Spring Training report dates, and so I’ll don my Kentucky Blue and foam finger for the team.

As my family was traveling recently, something struck me about the universality of sports, and particularly college football. Whether we were on a bus, waiting to be seated at a restaurant, or walking the beach, men would strike up a conversation with my husband about the most recent headlines and matchups. I had little to nothing to offer the exchange, and usually sat with a smile and quietly nodded. It appears men from all walks of life, all corners of the nation, and even fans of foes can find camaraderie while chatting about these games. So, what did I do? I Googled some football news and started sitting near other women at the beach or on public transit, waiting for when we’d share a moment and maybe a friendship over football. 

It never happened.

Vacation was coming to an end, and this was now serious sport for me. Wade would see me in the distance and shake his head, knowing well that I might do my own sort of touchdown dance if the lady in the pool lounger next to mine put down her Nicholas Sparks novel and asked me if I saw last night’s Hail Mary. My honest answer would’ve been, “No, I was reading.” But can you imagine? The friendship would have forever-potential.

On our last day at Disney, a family of four was standing in line in front of us. It was a gentleman in a sweat-soaked Ole Miss shirt, two handsome boys with eyes glued to their smartphones, and the mother with sequin mouse ears. 

“How long until you ask him about the Rebels?” I whispered to Wade. 

To my surprise, the woman turned to me. “Oh, I wish they could always stay young,” she smiled at Josey and Wiley. 

We talked the remainder of the 35-minute wait for the Jungle Cruise. When we exited the ride, Wade asked if the kind lady liked football.

“Well, her boys both play basketball, and one tried lacrosse last year and really enjoyed it.” 

I love that the commonality of female conversations is relationships. We were made for relationship—to be daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers. Now in those relationships, I’m able to pepper in some advice from my favorite college football coaches. Like Nick Saben’s astute observation that, “It takes what it takes,” or Lou Holtz’s sympathetic remark that, “No one has ever drowned in sweat,” or, “I can’t believe that God puts us on this earth to be ordinary.” I agree, Coach. 

He put us here to love and serve Him, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I think that means we must talk to them, and maybe that’s about the Cats or Tops, or maybe it’s about tried and true ways to get grass stains out of Little League pants. 

Those are just a few ways to kick-off a friendship.  

Author: Neena

Neena is a Kentucky wife, mother, and beekeeper. Her first novel, THE BIRD AND THE BEES, is a Christian contemporary romance available now. Visit her at wordslikehoney.com.

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