Put me in, coach – I’m ready to play

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, January 31, 2024

By Les Ferguson Jr.

Our youngest son loves football. We have a picture of him playing in a YMCA league in second grade. The shoulder pads and helmet were bigger than he was. The image is quite comical. 

His mom has never been a fan of the game. While supporting him playing, she worries that he’ll get hurt. Pray for football moms everywhere. They feel and flinch at every hit and thump their player takes. Their collective hearts stop whenever a player doesn’t immediately rise to his feet at the end of a play. 

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But like I said, our son loves and lives to play the game. He is single-minded in his determination to be the very best. 

Several times over the years, instead of doing his work in school, he was found on his computer – in the classroom, mind you – designing plays to give his coach. Amazingly, neither his parents nor teachers approved of that misguided approach. 

He’s been a kicker and a good one during the bulk of his high school career. He was despondent when the season ended this year, and his high school playing was over. His dad was, too. I have enjoyed the years of Friday nights under the lights at home and on the road. 

However, we have hopes that his football career will continue. We’ve been on two recruiting visits, and the chances are good that he will play at the next level.  

At one school, the head coach motivated and inspired like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I almost persuaded myself to try out for the team.

He stressed making and keeping priorities to the point that any potential player knew their focus at school could consist only of “books and ball.”

To say I was impressed by this coach’s presentation is to be understated. But more than just being impressed, it was a challenge to me this coach had never envisioned. 

In a world where focus can be lost and priorities twisted, it would do us well to remember what truly matters in life. 

The answer might be the appeal made in Hebrews 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Excuse me for mixing my metaphors, but as John Fogerty once sang, “Put me in, coach. I’m ready to play today.”