Over this past weekend I watched a lot of football.
I watched the South Carolina Gamecocks play the Vanderbilt Commodores.
I watched the Texas A&M Aggies play the Alabama Crimson Tide.
I watched the New Orleans Saints battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I watched the Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers.
But the best football game I watched over the weekend was not televised. The stands were not full of screaming fans waving rally towels. There weren’t bands belting out fight songs and show tunes. Instead, the best game of the weekend was football at its purest and simplest.
The game I am referring to happened right outside of my back porch in a public courtyard and involved a boy and his cat.
I suppose I should set the stage a little involving this Norman Rockwellian moment.
After spending much of the afternoon watching the Saints and the Buccaneers it occurred to me that my cacti probably needed to be watered.
Don’t ask me why exactly a game delayed for over an hour by lightning, as the Saints and Buccaneers were, jogged my memory about the cacti needing water but it just did.
So during a commercial break from the action, I went out to the back porch with my spray bottle and headed for the cacti that were in the corner panting for water.
As I approached the cacti I noticed a rather large black and white cat across the courtyard. The cat was intently watching something so I followed its feline gaze and saw a boy of about 7 or 8 throwing a foam football.
As anyone seeing a football in the air would do I turned towards the intended receiver to see if a catch was made or if the ball would be dropped.
But a funny thing happened, instead of the ball finding a receiver it hit the ground with a bounce and a roll.
The boy who had thrown the ball ran over to it and then threw it the other direction.
It was only then that I realized that the boy was by himself, well except for his cat, and was throwing the ball without a care in the world.
As I stood on my porch watching a few throws back and forth several thoughts filled my head.
The first thought was that it was encouraging to see someone outside actually throwing a real football as opposed to playing a football video game.
It took me back to my younger version of me days when I would spend hours outside after school and on weekends playing football with my friends from the neighborhood.
This quickly brought me to my next thought which was, why was this kid outside playing by himself?
Of course there could be myriad reasons why there weren’t any receivers out there for him to throw to. And for all I know he may have had a friend out there with him before I went outside.
But as I was watching there were no friends to catch the ball, only the boy’s cat watching as the ball went from one end of the courtyard to the other.
This is when my third thought occurred to me. For the briefest of moments I thought about going out there and offering to have a catch with him. Of course this thought created its own set of circumstances that prevented that from happening.
I want to say that we live in a world where a stranger could go up to a small child and offer to throw the football with them but this is not that type of world.
I know that there were bad people in the world when I was a child just as there are bad people in the world today. But it seems like there was more goodness in the world as well during my youth.
While the world I grew up in was far from the stone skipping, song whistling, carefree world of the Andy Griffith Show, it was also not a world where I felt danger around every corner.
It just seems the world of today is not as safe of a place for children to grow up in. Either that or it is the same amount of crime and danger but the internet and other sources allow it to be reported more than it was during my carefree youth.
So thinking all of these things the last thing I wanted to do was spook the boy and his cat by approaching them. I of course knew that all I wanted to do was to give him someone to play catch with but he would not have known that and very well could have seen me as a threat.
Of course, I could very well have been over thinking the whole thing and maybe going out to play catch would not have caused whoever was watching the boy from one of the other patios to run out and shout at me for daring to talk to their son and/or grandson.
I went back outside about a half hour later but the boy and the cat were gone having finished their game of courtyard catch.
Perhaps if I see the boy and his cat out there again next weekend I will offer to show him how to throw a better spiral or to run a post route. After all, everyone should know the finer points of a spiral pass and a post route.
Then again, maybe he is perfectly fine just throwing the ball to imaginary receivers while his cat cheers him on from the shade.
That is part of the wonder of being young and unencumbered with worry, all of your passes are touchdowns and the play clock never runs out.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another game to watch.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson