Pop-Warner Practice


I walk my dog by the field
There is lots of screaming and shouting
The kids are ten or twelve
The coach is well into his forties

The coach wears a white T-shirt
With sleeves cut off
And mesh shorts
He is meaty but not fat
Kind of like a toned pig or wild boar
He keeps shouting and shouting
Like a drill sergeant

The shouting unnerves me
It nearly makes me flinch
And it automatically makes me angry
Negative energy breeds negative energy
I feel like punching the coach in the face

The insinuation is that shouting with anger and violence
Is what makes men men
Even though they’re playing a game
Where they wear tights
Tackle each other
Slap ass
And have positions named “Wide Receiver”
And “Tight end”

The parents are on the sidelines
They seem OK with everything
They’re OK with this wild boar
Barking at their children

I loop around the field
The barking continues
“Bring it in! Bring it in!!!”
The practice ends
Parents and the coaches roar off in their pick-ups
Too much loud noise
I’m uncomfortable

I loop around a block or two
And come to a nice, quiet street 
Where there’s a church
I’m not really religious
But it’s so peaceful
And so isn’t the street
So quiet and tranquil
And it reminds me of what peace is
And whatever was coming out of that coach
Was the exact opposite
It was war, I suppose

I keep looping around the circle of streets
All the way back to the field
The parents and Pop Warner players
Have all cleared out

All that’s left is a small sedan
It rolls out of its space
Around the field
Up behind me
And passes me by

I look in the car
And see the wild boar
But he doesn’t seem so wild right now
His small dog with white, curled fur
Fresh back from the groomer, it appears
Sits beside him in the passenger seat

For some reason I feel bad for him
The coach looks lonely
And much smaller
Than how he appeared on the field
It's like the Boarish front
Was all an act
Forcing himself to hide his heart
And be tougher
Than he really was
Because maybe this is how he was taught
From some other coach from the past
And he’s doing nothing
But spreading it to the next generation
And perpetuating a tough-guy violence
A war-like mentality
That he doesn’t really want
But feels he has to have

 


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