Bless me Father, for I (may) have sinned.
Maybe it was our esteemed leader Mr Harms writing about Assumption Day recently (rightly corrected by one of the Micks amongst us as the Feast of the Assumption and a Holy Day of Obligation) but I feel the need to get religious and seek forgiveness.
I recently found myself with a moral dilemma that covered both football and parenting, and I feel I may have strayed off the path of righteousness.
My moral dilemma reminded me of the old line about mixed emotions being watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your new Ferrari, however as I will never own a Ferrari and my mother-in-law has been known to read my articles, I of course sin binned that comment and moved on.
My 12 year old son attends Auskick at the Glenferrie Oval in Hawthorn, and it is fantastic that he can play on a ground with such history, where Hudson, Crimmins, Matthews and Scott played games or trained. In fact, it is only within reasonably recently memory that the Hawks moved out of there for Waverly, and I recall watching Dunstall’s last training session there one August Thursday afternoon. As a young Hawks fan, he has enjoyed playing in front of the Tuck Stand, a wonderful, albeit asbestos ridden, example of Art Deco design, currently under repair.
The Hawthorn Auskick centre is well patronised, and as a result, has its fair share of opportunities to play in the AFL half time games. This year he has played in the Hawthorn and Bulldogs match and they were also the pre match entertainment with a 30 minute game opportunity before the EJ Whitten Legends game at Etihad.
As he’s a Grade 6 boy, they play in the game that goes from wing to wing, having graduated from the smaller grid games for younger kids in the forward pockets. They play in full kit, proper rules, representing one of the clubs playing that day. Auskick is a wonderful program, grabbing kids at the formative stage of their involvement in footy, and is very well run and managed. The chance to play on the main stage in front of crowds at half time, and to award premiership medals on the big day, is a great marketing piece.
Last weekend, Ben’s group was again invited to play, with their game being the Collingwood and North game on Saturday evening. Like any dad, I was incredibly happy for him to get the chance to run around and play in front of a big crowd, and form a guard of honour for the players after the half time break. He loved this when he played in the Hawks game, wearing the jumper he loves so much, and in the EJ Whitten game, they wore the jumper of his junior footy club, the Hawks away jumper.
This weekend though, he’d have to wear another jumper, and as the game approached, we knew there was a 50% chance his group would be nominated as the Collingwood team.
I am sure you see my dilemma here.
On one hand, my desire to give my son wonderful football opportunities like running out at Etihad on a Saturday evening, in front of 40,000, being in the change rooms, getting high fives and being close to the action.
On the other, wearing a Collingwood jumper in public.
What to do? Do I deny him the chance, and hope he sees the greater good that will come from denial. Do I assume he agrees with me that I just can’t let him wear the prison stripes? That he has heard from me enough times that it is ABC (Anyone but Collingwood)
I must admit, I am not fanatical about matters like this, and don’t hate Collingwood in a nonsensical way, letting it dominate my life. I may dislike the Pies, but hate’s a strong word that I try to avoid.
But, having grown up in Melbourne, to a Carlton family before settling on the Tigers, I know that Collingwood is wrong and never the twain shall meet. You are either for them or against them, simple as that, and I think they like it that way.
Or do I suck it up princess, drink that cup of concrete, and let the boy enjoy playing footy regardless of the jumper.
Was I worried that a 14 minute game in the black and white would lead to a toothless life of crime?
I surveyed a number of my friends as to what to do, and got responses ranging from “let the kid play” to “you’re dead to me Sean”
To his credit, Ben looked at me like Isaac to Abraham and said he understood what I had to do and backed me all the way.
In the end, I let him play, as chances like this are rare and part of being a kid. But I said there’d be no photos for mum this time around, and he understood.
The result: he played for the Pies, kicked a good goal and they beat their undersized Kangaroos opposition by 6 goals. Since Saturday night, there’s been no desire to get a full sleeve tattoo as yet, but he did pull a sickie from school yesterday.
As it turned out, Ben and his team’s effort was one of the few smiles Pies supporters got on Saturday night. The way Cloke and Dawes played, they couldn’t have done any worse if they got a few of the taller 12 year olds to stay on for the third quarter and subbed the big forwards out.
To give credit where it is due, as good as the AFL is at arranging Auskick and corralling kids and parents with tickets, seats, and getting them all into jumpers downstairs with all that excitement, the Pies themselves do a stunning job on the day with Auskick organisation. They seem to recognise this as a marketing opportunity and that wearing the jumper is special. We had two dedicated Collingwood staffers/volunteers working with the parents and kids from 6-9pm, and the club is canny enough to try to win over those still undecided, as well as rewarding those in the teams already on the Pies bandwagon.
I feel I compromised my principles a bit, but as Ch 7 didn’t show any of it during the Taylor and Darcy half time wrap, and there’s no photos, I can claim it didn’t happen, and that there’s no evidence of my son in full Magpie gear out there.
Regardless, I seek forgiveness for letting him represent the Pies for a night and will accept a season of orange cutting or having to eat 3 MCG superdogs as penance.