When H began to stay awake through our church service, we started taking him back to the nursery. From the start it’s never been his favorite place. However a few weeks each month one of the youth, Amber, volunteered in the nursery and typically brought her boyfriend to assist. This was perfect for our little “man’s man”, who seemed to gravitate toward the boyfriend. The kid was a good sport about it, holding or playing with H and even acting as if he enjoyed it.
One day I told Youth Director Mark that I wanted to show my support for Amber (as well as indulge in my love of HS girls basketball) by making it to one of her games. We decided on a date to go and Mark mentioned that the boyfriend played as well and was quite good. So we decided to hit one of the boys games as well. At the end of the conversation I asked Amber’s boyfriend’s name again, making a mental note to commit it to memory as it’s probably bad form to ask the name of a person for a 5th time (this post is starting to take on the point of “learn a little more about the people who watch your children, even if it’s for an hour on Sunday”). Mark told me his name was Aaron.
So we arrive at the LB game, my dad in tow because he loves basketball and there was a kid on this state-ranked team who had committed to Ohio State. After getting there, dad asks, “what is the name of the kid who helps in your nursery?” To which I replied, “Aaron.” Dad said, “you mean Aaron Craft?” I said, “uhhhh, he’s number (whatever his number was in HS).” Yup, H’s favorite big kid was the newest OSU recruit. And I had no idea.
This has caused me to have quite the seasonal obsession with OSU basketball this year. Of course, we also have our Upper Sandusky ties to Diebler, but that was more a situation of shared municipality and mutual friends than actual relationship, though I know him to be a good, relatively down-to-earth kid. I appreciated how well Aaron treated my kid and in my limited interactions with him, I find him to be a stellar person.
My obsession isn’t necessarily the sort where I’m dressing up like a large pompom for the games; it’s more of a mother-like possessive tendency that when I see their faces on big screens I feel protective of them. These are good kids out there, and I hear ESPN announcers offering commentary on their collective self-worth based upon percentages and defensive presence. Granted, this year they’ve been good percentages, but it still pains me nonetheless that these boys wear the weight of hundreds of thousands of fans to be winning machines. Makers of victory.
The way we view athletes and sports in our society troubles me. We idolize these characters and then toss them aside when they fall from the public graces. Do we really have to wonder why so many professional athletes suffer from the stigma of drug addiction, even if not partaking in the Any Given Sunday lifestyle? The money, the girls, the life… we set them high, high above reality and wonder why many come crashing down so hard.
I’m so excited for and proud of Aaron – and Jon – and the opportunity they have ahead of them on this team. It seems from so many avenues (including their current publicity, below) that they’re enjoying a great ride. They’ve kept their perspective, which is what I’m really wishing for. I hope that they know that to many people, they’re more than a means to victory or championship titles. To some little boys, they’re heroes because they’re willing to get down on the floor of a church and play trucks at 8am on a Sunday. The jersey is just decoration.