A while back, I confessed to having mostly deleted my sports fan gene, especially when it comes to professional sports. Egotistical overindulged pro athletes are generally reason enough to change the channel. But those rioting “de-individuated” sports fans also had something to do with it, too.
However, I do have a soft spot for genuine amateurs, the non-professionals like pee-wees playing football or high school kids on Friday nights. Save for the occasional aberration, usually involving parents, most of the time, these kids are our last glimmers of unadulterated sports purity — of playing for the fun and for the love.
Unfortunately, collegiate athletics not unlike professional sports have for the most part become nothing more than a gazillion-dollar cynical business up to its unctuous gills in “hypocrisy, the homage vice pays to virtue.”
Yet despite that, and I admit — inconsistent with my overall disdain of crass big business college sports, over the past many years I’ve found myself unable to shake off one remaining partiality — a vestigial enthusiasm for at least one college football team.
Blame it on the nuns or on parochial school or on a fifth-grader finding a worn copy of Knute Rockne, Young Athlete on the classroom bookshelf. And then the nuns screened Knute Rockne All American in the church hall.
Since then, it’s been root, root for ol’ Notre Dame. And after decades of meager glory, this year’s Irish football season has been a wonderment — a thing to behold and caress.
The joy of Sam Gordon.
But this isn’t about Notre Dame’s return to football glory and playing for the national collegiate football championship, it’s about still being able to find purity in sports and about the vicarious joy of discovering a nine-year old little wisp of a girl, Samantha Gordon. ‘Sam’ plays tackle football in the environs of Salt Lake City, Utah with boys mostly twice her size.
Here’s the kicker, though, Sam’s a darn good player, rushing this year for almost 2,000 yards and scoring 35 touchdowns.
The video posted on YouTube by her dad, Brent, has gone viral and the story of Number “6” has made the national press.
She is fast. She is fearless. She’s the real deal. And she’s having fun. Go Sam, go.
Photo Credits: IMG_0808 by Kristina Zuidema, KrissZPhotography , at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution.