Why I’m Thankful for The Sandlot

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Take a step out into the fall air. There’s a faint rustle in the stillness. Falling leaves flutter to the Earth’s floor. Their slow decomposition releases an arousing aroma. It’s the smell of autumn. It’s the smell of coming things. It’s the smell of football.

There comes a time in the late school day afternoon, when the homework is finished, that the smell beckons. When this siren calls, the boys come out.

Or at least they used to. There was once an age, well before organized youth sports, when neighborhood boys would regularly convene. Together, they would decide the game, the boundaries, and the rules. Then they’d play. Sometimes deep into the darkness. The score never mattered. The camaraderie did.Continue Reading “Why I’m Thankful for The Sandlot”

Playing Through the Pain

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Warning: Parents, doctors, and youth sports administrators may find the following quite disturbing.

It’s a classic “guy” thing. Playing through the pain. It’s also a throwback thing. It harkens to an era when (especially football) coaches would admonish you for dogging it on account of a presumed injury. These coaches themselves reflect an even earlier epoch, one where boot camp drill sergeants berated new recruits, pushing them up to and then beyond their physical limits.

We can’t do that anymore. We now live in a sissified society, constrained by both the very real fear of catastrophic liability claims and an unnatural craze that decries all things alpha male. There was once a time – from our Continue Reading “Playing Through the Pain”

The Annual Thanksgiving Mudbowl

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mudbowl-1434436-1598x1062Bring an old weathered football up to your nose, close your eyes, and take a good whiff. Can you smell it? Do images of sweaty muddied gruff men, caked with sweat and blood, move in slow motion within your brain? Do your muscles tighten in pleasant anticipation at the thought of the gridiron? If so, then congratulations. You are part of a dying breed, a member of a secret society that long ago closed its doors to new applicants.

Well, not exactly. Those doors  remain open today and they will forever stay open. It’s just that, in an era of prefabricated microwave cooking, no one wants to go through the Continue Reading “The Annual Thanksgiving Mudbowl”

Soaring With The Eagle… and Beyond

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Sam Carosa - IMG_7127-300x395It snows a lot in the towns south of Buffalo. That’s why they call them the snow belts. So when a young dad wants to teach his two small sons the fundamentals of football, he only has one option: The finished basement of the raised ranch home he built for his family.

That young dad was my father, and those two young sons were the six and seven year-old version of my brother and me. There we were, in our bare feet (lest we slip on the linoleum tiles), running and defending simple pass patterns drawn by our father on the cold basement floor. We’d take turns. One series of plays I was the receiver and Kenny was the defender. The next series of plays Kenny was the receiver and I was the defender. We could barely catch the oversized ball, let alone comprehend the intricacies of basic square outs, buttons, and hooks.

Yet we persevered. Such was our enthusiasm to play the sport that no amount of failure could discourage us. More important, though, were those reassuring words I remember my Continue Reading “Soaring With The Eagle… and Beyond”

Penalize Colorado! Ethics Begins on the Football Field

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the October 18, 1990 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259Sure I wanted Notre Dame to score on that last second touchdown pass. Just like a lot of other people, I was disappointed when the receiver dropped the ball. Yet, something else occurred on that particular Saturday which upset me even more.

College football bashing seems to be a regular event among the more erudite columnists. Many people complain the big money business of NCAA football runs counter to the spirit of the educational university. Certainly, we can’t encourage putting bucks ahead of books. But a solid education must Continue Reading “Penalize Colorado! Ethics Begins on the Football Field”

Double Sessions

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the August 23, 1990 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259The early mornings of late August forebode the coming end of summer. A slight chill remains above the heavy wet grass until the sun gets high enough to melt the dew. Take a deep breath and you will notice the smell of the season has changed. The dry dustiness has been replaced by a soft gentle odor reminiscent of spring.

Late August mornings encourage us to Continue Reading “Double Sessions”

Some Silly Thoughts…

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the April 12, 1990 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

 

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259Yes, I’ve lived in Western New York all my life, but the crazy April snowstorms we get still strike me as silly. “April showers bring May flowers.” I can’t recall any lyrics dealing with April snowstorms.

Once silliness infiltrates my mind, it doesn’t require a whole lot of effort for other absurdities to encroach upon the various unemployed synapses and neurons. For material, one merely needs to review current events…  Continue Reading “Some Silly Thoughts…”

The Greatest Game Ever… So Far!

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The game has come to define my life. You won’t find my name in any record books or even on many rosters, but the game flows through my very blood. Indeed, the Peter_Sports_Cover_300fact I don’t appear within any organized log tells you most of the story. But this, this is a different story.

Gary Trudeau once said we have become a nation of play-by-play announcers. We see life as a narrated live action event. It therefore doesn’t help things that, among the many paths I’ve taken, includes that of actually serving as a play-by-play announcer. But, rather than dwelling on a “voice of God” describing the action, what stands out in my memory remains the visions of modest, yet self-satisfying, glory. Picture not the booming baritone of NFL Films, but the dramatic slow-motion dénouement of a Hollywood picture.

It’s the littlest things I remember: The enormous body floating silently above me that Continue Reading “The Greatest Game Ever… So Far!”

“Hey! You’re Not Supposed to Do That!”

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Screamed the older woman to the group of middle schoolers playing football in the middle of the astroturfed field house. The field house was the University of 585059_95438463_Robot_Football_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300Rochester’s Goergen Athletic Center. The tweens – both boys and girls – were members of various Lego robotics teams. The woman was a coach for one of the teams. Apparently, her concern involved something about the potential of a football crashing into someone’s fragile plastic robot – a potential never realized despite the footballers ignoring her plea.

But, think about the setting before you off-handedly flip the page.

Earlier in the day, at the morning coaches meeting, one of the coaches labeled the Continue Reading ““Hey! You’re Not Supposed to Do That!””

Rediscovering the Fighter Jock

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The weatherman had threatened early snow unsuccessfully for more than a week now, so it comes as no surprise when the early morning rain turns to wet snow. Rediscovering_the_Fighter_Jock_300Still, the first snow always startles, and I pause in observance before entering my cherry red Z-28. I imagine slippery conditions as I pull from the Camaro from my driveway, but by the time I travel the more than twenty miles to the field, only a faint rain precipitates from the clouds.

The fullness of fall could only mean football, a ritualistic pastime beyond the understanding of most of those who play – and impossible to fathom for those who don’t.

*                              *                              *

I can’t remember when self-doubt originally entered my mind. Certainly, years of hard Continue Reading “Rediscovering the Fighter Jock”