Family learns to play by football's rules every fall | THE MOM STOP

Lydia Seabol Avant. [Staff file photo/The Tuscaloosa News]
Lydia Seabol Avant. [Staff file photo/The Tuscaloosa News]

Like any other Southern family living in a major college town, we have learned that football is a way of life when it comes to the fall. That's especially true if your family works and lives near campus, l.

Football dictates not only what we are doing on any particular weekend — going to a game, taking the kids to the Quad, watching a game on TV from home or even which  roads we take or which grocery store we go to — but it even dictated when we got married.

Like any good Southern girl who had her heart set on getting married during the fall (which I know, is sacrilegious in itself to some football fans), we based our 2006 wedding date on the football schedules of both my alma mater, the University of Alabama, and my husband’s alma mater, Georgia Southern University.

Depending on which side of the guest list you talk to, our friends still lament about how we got married during the LSU vs. Alabama (away) game AND the GSU v. App State game. Too bad there were no bye weeks that year.

MORE FROM THE MOM STOP: Ready or not, high school years are almost here

My husband grew up breathing Georgia Southern’s blue and white. He was in Georgia Southern's marching band in undergrad and graduate school and still to this day has a giant framed photo of GSU’s late head coach, Erk Russell, on the wall of his office. When Russell led Georgia Southern to three national NCAA I-AA titles in the 1980s, my husband was only a kid. But he was there. Although my husband never played football, Georgia Southern football is still one of his great loves in life.

Football for me is more of a social event. Perhaps it’s because I was sorority girl at Alabama during a time when UA had four head football coaches in four years. Or perhaps it’s because, despite going to countless games, I’ve never paid that much attention to the game itself. I love the sound of the Million Dollar Band playing, the food at tailgates on the Quad and dressing up on game days.

Our kids have grown up in Tuscaloosa and for most of their lives they've been within walking distance of Bryant-Denny Stadium. They attended their first games as babies strapped to my chest, they wore smocked Alabama outfits during football season and Big Al came to visit their on-campus preschool.

You would think our three kids have inherited a love of football. But somehow we have failed. As a kindergartner, our son was invited to a luncheon where he got his photo taken with famed Alabama coach Nick Saban. Afterward, I asked my boy if he was excited to meet Saban. Only he had a simple reply. “Who’s that?” My sweet 5-year-old was just happy to get his photo taken, even if he had no idea who he was standing with.

And so I was a little shocked recently, when I was discussing fall sports with my son, who is now 11 years old. For the last few years, he’s played fall baseball, followed by basketball in the winter and baseball again in the spring. But this year, he had a new request — he wants to play tackle football.

As a mom, I had thoughts of broken collar bones or dislocated joints. I thought about brain injuries caused by repetitive blows in football. I asked my husband what he thought, and was surprised to find he didn’t have a strong opinion either way — he never played football on a team himself, since he played baseball.

And while our son loves baseball, he’s built for football. As a solidly-built kid who has always been above the curve in height, he’s likely to eventually soar over both my 6-foot, 2-inch husband and my 6-foot self. My son has never been the fastest runner, but he is big.

So I let our son decide. Last week, I signed him up for recreation league football. Who knows whether he’ll go on to play football in high school or college, or even beyond this single season. But considering he’s a Southern kid growing up in a college football town, having a little passion for the game seems natural. If anything, one day, maybe he’ll be able to explain the rules of the game to me.

Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News. Reach her at

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Family learns to play by football's rules every fall | THE MOM STOP