Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 Amherst Bowl

Years ago I put together a father son Thanksgiving football game hoping to fill those empty morning hours and hang out with my son.

I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.

Celebrating its 8th year, the tournament, christened "The Amherst Bowl", has swollen to 127 players spanning 6 football fields and 12 teams playing 5 continuous football games in authentic AFC or NFC team jerseys.

The trash talk begins on Labor Day and echoes through our Township’s lunchrooms and playing fields with kids wearing prior years’ jerseys like badges of glory.

During Thanksgiving’s wet early morning hours, we map out and line the fields and set up tables overflowing cakes, hot chocolate and coffee.

The horde shows up at around 8:00 a.m. eager to learn the team to which to they’ve been assigned, whom their teammates will be, and how gloriously muddy the fields are.

Shirts are distributed, rules are explained, and at 9:00 a.m. the carnage begins.

During the ensuing rigidly timed five games, fathers put their middle-aged bodies at risk, re-live their youth and play football with their sons.

Throughout the morning used soccer gear is collected by "Heads Up Soccer" which transports and distributes it to impoverished third world youth.

Additionally, monies raised are donated to "Katie at the Bat" (improving inner-city youths’ lives through athletics, literacy, nutrition and health, and the arts), "Adam Spandorfer Memorial Fund" (raising monies for Variety Club Camp at which children with disabilities can play baseball), and Hope with Heart (providing a summer camp and building a community for children with moderate to severe heart problems).

Although, at the Tournament’s end, some need help getting off of the field, that evening’s Thanksgiving tables are abuzz with boasts of heroic plays, grudges revisited, and glorious victories.

Until next year, when we do it bigger and better.