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Eric Christensen: A scrimmage with the truth

Chairman of the Boards

Posted: September 10, 2009 10:22 p.m.
Updated: September 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Will Christiansen proudly playing Warrior football. Will Christiansen proudly playing Warrior football.
Will Christiansen proudly playing Warrior football.
Will Christiansen proudly playing Warrior football. Will Christiansen proudly playing Warrior football.
Will Christiansen proudly playing Warrior football.

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”
— Winston Churchill

I have to be pushed to my limits in order to experience any true freedom.

That push comes from outside of myself and many times, that freedom comes at the expense of my pride.

Growing up, I always lived near the ocean and much of my time was spent in solitary pursuits.

I would challenge myself surfing, skateboarding and swimming. I had my friends, but often I would enjoy the water alone.

I eschewed team sports as my interests and skills grew in surfing and skateboarding.

Later in high school, my exposure to the “athletic community” was not positive.

I became the antithesis to organized team sports. From these experiences I formed assumptions and beliefs based on what I believed to be fact.

I am now a father of three kids: two boys — Will, 10, Peter, 11 — and my princess Kathryn, 7.

I started skateboarding with my boys when they were 3 and 4 years old and in the last couple years, we have added surfing and snowboarding.

It was my plan to have them follow in my footsteps. Then came Will’s love of football.

I had once told my boys that if they had a true passion and proved it with consistency I would support them.

I had hoped that passion would come in the form of snowboarding, skateboarding or surfing. Little did I know the lesson God had planned for me.

For three years, Will has been playing flag football, but, I was obstinate about not letting him play tackle.

Slowly I began to sense hurt, my own hurt. Where was this coming from?

Then one morning, driving Will to school, I sensed something was not right with him either.

He told me that he felt left out not playing tackle football with the rest of his friends.

I thought about the Christmas that we got him the pretend football helmet and I watched him wear it constantly. He so wanted the real thing, but I was not ready to give in. I had my reasons.

“I’m digging in the dirt, To find the places I got hurt, To open up the places I got hurt.”

— Peter Gabriel

God has a brilliantly weird way of getting to our deep hurts and then giving us an opportunity to let them go.

I was back in third grade, wearing a football jersey my mom had gotten me. I turned around to the desk behind me to talk with Dave who was in Pop Warner football.

He said to me “Oh yeah, I played football — just in a league you don’t know.” I turned around ashamed and embarrassed. That’s where I recognized that look Will had.

However, I was still dead set against this “Warrior” football.

From my limited perspective, it was one step away from a draconian militia.

Even worse, what if Will turned out to be like the jocks that harassed me in high school?

Whenever I pray for something I have to be careful. Often the answer is exactly what I do not want to hear. One morning I woke up with this in my head, “Eric, you are parenting out of what you want, not what is right for your son.

Furthermore, you are parenting out your own hurt and fear, and by the way, none of it is true.” I knew what I had to do.

“Pride walk out the door. I don’t need you anymore.”
— Shawn McDonald

When I walked into that building to sign Will up for Warriors, I was furious. “How could I, the consummate individual, end up here in jock heaven?”

As we proceeded, I had an attitude, a bad one, but I was going to do this.

When we got to the merchandise table I came face-to-face with a mom to whom I vociferously defended my anti-Warrior attitude.

“Hmmmm, seems like you have come to our side. You’re a Warrior family now,” she said.

I was getting ready to say something as I heard myself say, “Yes, we are.”

I then looked over at my son beaming with pride with his new Warrior t-shirt and equipment bag.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

 — Romans 12:2

I sit in my chair watching Will go through the paces.

Two hours of practice, six days a week and it is hovering at 100 degrees as he takes yet another water break.

He seems so different. I feel a pang of sadness, only for it to be quickly replaced by pride.

Pride not in myself, but in what my son is becoming. Later, driving home in the car, I looked at him still wet with sweat.

“Will, I could not do what you are doing. I would be whining.  Will, I am proud of you,” I said.

He doesn’t say much and just smiles. I stare and see a man appearing where a little boy was.

I am struck with the thought that I could have missed all of this if I had my own way.

Eric Christiansen is a Santa Clarita Valley resident. His column represents his own views not necessarily those of The Signal.


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