Friday, August 7, 2015

Bittersweet Memories

Anyone that knows me, knows my life revolves around my kids lives.  As we are finishing up summer and leading into fall, it means one thing: It's Football Season.

This year is a bittersweet season. It's our youngest son's senior season.  My husband and I have been active members of our kids football careers for what seems like forever.  For our oldest, it was two years of youth football, four years of high school and three years of college.  Our youngest was three years of youth football, three years (so far) of  high school, this upcoming season, and what will hopefully be a college career too.

We live in a city with two high schools. Rival high schools.  I've noticed recently that the rivalry isn't just a friendly rivalry.  It's a division of the entire city.  My husband grew up in this town and went to the rival school.  Had borders been in place, our kids would have gone to the rival school.  Our kids chose to go to their current school. We gave them that choice. They are both excellent students and we felt that it was their lives, and they needed to live them every day, so we left it up to them.  Both schools have outstanding academic programs (though some people outside the district might think differently).  Both have AP classes; both have full sports programs; both are really good schools. The indoor and outdoor sports facilities are shared, and unfortunately it is perceived that because the outdoor facility is on our school grounds, that it is our facility.  The indoor facility is at our rival school school and allows for shared hosting of indoor events.

I won't get into a debate about shared facilities, what we get vs. what they get... or what they get vs. what we get or even where money comes from to buy whatever it is that schools buy. It's a frustrating topic and just creates animosity among the schools and feeds into the division.

What frustrates me is the division of friendships because of the rivalry.  When our boys were in middle school, the rivalry was present.  The only time it really showed was during the youth football team rivalry week.  Every other week of the year, both sides got along.  They ate lunch together.  They joked in the hallways.  They went to movies together.   

Now, it's become an ever present nightmare of we are better than you, you are worse than us from both sides of the coin.  How about everyone just takes a step back and realize that we are from the same city and it could possibly be our city against another city.  Go back to a good, clean rivalry.  

I am one of the first ones to like things on social media when the rival school does something good.  I'm happy when they succeed.  I'm happy when they win games.  I feel bad when they don't.  Kids on those teams were kids that my husband coached for years in youth baseball.  We watched them grow up and are happy when they are successful.  We want to see them get into good colleges, and get the accolades they deserve.  When one team goes to the state playoffs or matches, or a single student gets accepted to a prestigious college, I am beyond happy.  That means our teachers, our coaches, our administrators have done something right.  It's our city.

The memories I have from our kids in youth sports and grade school and middle school are bittersweet.  Some of my closest friends are from that rival school.  Our oldest son attended prom at the rival school instead of his own prom.  He missed his friends and wasn't going to let something like a little rivalry stop him from that experience.

Ultimately, I want my kids, and those kids that have been part of our lives for years, to know that no matter what they think about this rivalry, once you graduate high school and move to the next level, none of this matters.  Unless you get stuck in high school and can't move away from what was, you will make new friends.  And if you are lucky enough, you'll rekindle friendships from grade school and middle school, and even from your rival high school.

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