Monday, April 18, 2011

Boys with Sticks

My son Jack plays lacrosse.

I took him to his first practice last week where he took his place among 20 miniature warriors in battle gear.

As I scanned the crowd of second-, third- and fourth-graders - some bouncing from sugar rushes, others just naturally hyped up - one prevailing thought stayed firmly with me: Nothing screams potential head injury like this particular grouping, armed with aluminum lacrosse sticks.

Coach Todd tossed a lax ball in the middle of the field and the players sprang into action - sticks flying, checked bodies following suit, helmets smacking together - as each tried to gain control of the ball and move it to the opposing goal.

And the soundtrack from Braveheart played in my head as I watched the scene unfold.

Unlike my son, I grew up in a mill town where my contact sport of choice was football.

I didn't start playing until I was 11 and, even then, the sport afforded much more in terms of padding and bodily protection.

We also didn't wield weapons of any type...although, in retrospect, that would have been quite cool.

So now I am learning the intricacies of a new sport - one nearly as foreign to me as field hockey.

A sport with its own unique history, terminology, playing positions and rules.

And one that Jack has shown a true love for - spawned equally by its newness and the fact that it is played by his older North Carolina cousins Brett, Drew and Samantha.

As for the potential of injuries?

I think he stands a much better chance of surviving a lacrosse season intact than we did playing with the dangerous toys of the 1970s.

Lawn darts, anyone?

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