Monday, November 22, 2010

Football - a game and a great learning tool

I’ll admit it ― I've never been a big football fan. Even after I married a sports editor, I was still a little lukewarm about the game. I thought it was a little confusing. Maybe a little too rough. But now my feelings have changed. Now that I have a football-crazed little boy, I look at the sport a whole new way.

It’s not just a game. It’s a learning tool.

See, my son is a football fanatic. College teams, professional teams - he follows them all. Closely. He has a particular fondness for the Chicago Bears, which he gets from my husband, but that's just the beginning. The child wants knowledge. He wants trivia. He wants facts, figures, favorite players for each team. He wants history, wins, losses, greatest moments and biggest defeats.

He wants to learn. And that's pretty big news, since over the summer the boy had informed me - at the tender age of 7 - that he really wasn't “a school kind of guy.”

So believe me - we're teaching. We’re just using football to kick off the lesson. (This is an editorial "we," of course. I'm not the football expert - my husband is. I am, however, an enthusiastic fan of the whole father-son bonding thing, so I love to watch it all in action.)

Sometimes, football is a geography lesson. The Indianapolis Colts? They’re right here, in Indiana, see? Yep, where the star is. That means it’s the capital of the state. The Bears? They’re in Chicago. Right over here.

When the NFL realigned its divisions a few years ago, teams were placed in divisions that made sense geographically (for the most part). So now my son understands where the South is because teams like Atlanta, Tampa Bay and New Orleans play in the NFC South. And the Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions play in the NFC North. Get it? My son does, too.

Other times, our dinner conversation is a veritable arithmetic lesson. For instance: If the Bears scored a touchdown, made the extra point, kicked a field goal, got a safety and scored another touchdown and went for two (and got it), how many points did they score? (Answer: 20.)

Seriously - he knows this. I don't. But he does. I love that. I love the look on his face while he focuses and works through the problem, and I love that look of pride when he comes up with the right answer and I hug him and say, "Smart cookie!!"

Apparently, the lessons are staying with him, too. The other day, when I dropped him off for school in the morning, his teacher stopped me. “Did Sean tell you about his math problem the other day?” she said. I shook my head, curious.

“We were working on 20,” she told me. “And he had a few problems worked out, you know, 10 + 10, 16 + 4, but in the corner of his sheet, he had written ‘FF TT.’ Well, I thought and thought and finally I asked him, “What does that stand for?”

I grinned because I already knew. I did, after all, marry that sports editor.

His teacher started laughing. “He said, ‘Field goal, field goal, touchdown, touchdown.’” And I just had to laugh. He was right. I think that's the first time a student has worked it out like that for me."

I hope it's not the last.


  1. I am football challenged, so am enjoying this concept!

    I am your newest follower.


  2. Thanks for the follow, Madeline!!!

    Honestly, football still confuses me (although it has been explained to me many, many times), but seeing my son so enthusiastic has made me more of a fan!!

    p.s. I'm following your blog - I have some book suggestions to add!!!