When my neighbor Sylvia told me that her younger son Bryce was playing youth football, I immediately wanted to watch him in action.
Of course, when I say “watch,” that means snapping a couple hundred photos with my Nikon dSLR.
Once I reached the field at a nearby high school and got in position close to the action, another neighbor, Tish, called my name from the stands and got my attention.
“Sam is number one,” she said. That gave me a second shooting target.
Bryce and Sam play for a second-year youth football league called GridIron in a division with third- and fourth-graders. It was started by Bucky Richardson, who was a star quarterback for Texas A&M and endured a so-so professional career. The kid teams (through sixth grade) are affiliated with the high school squads with the hope that some of these players one day will wear the same colors as freshmen. Which is why the little guys’ uniforms look like the big guys’.
I hadn’t shot youth football since my younger son went on to play in middle school after the sixth-grade age limit; I’m now used to the bigger high school kids. But even though there’s a size difference, football—Texas’ state religion—is football no matter what level.
The sport is still about offense and defense, although there are few passes at the younger level. And the blocking can be a little spotty, because sometimes the little kids aren’t sure which way they’re supposed to go.
But the younger set plays with as much emotion as their older counterparts. Winning still is more fun than losing, and all of them want to score a touchdown.
Of course, there is one thing that the small fries have over those bigger lugs:
They’re so darned cute!