How Football Made Me Proud To Be An American
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How Football Made Me Proud To Be An American

The gritty sport that taught me exactly what it takes to prosper in this country.

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How Football Made Me Proud To Be An American
Joshua Elias

Growing up as a second generation American, with a father who practiced it in high school, it’s no wonder that American Football is a religion in my household. Sundays remained holy days with the altar being my living room and we sacrificed hotdogs, burgers, and pizza to the Miami Dolphins to aid them in their fruitless journey to win a game. As a kid I pounced on every opportunity to practice this sacred sport in and outside of school, I yearned to imitate my father and the superstars on the television. When I finally played tackle football my freshman year, I not only felt like one of my heroes, my father, but I grew a deeper love for this country. Football taught me the greatest lesson this country could ever endow on its citizens: how to succeed.

In my bedroom, the first thing you notice is a colossal American flag over my bed…underneath that, a picture of me alongside my Kendall Hammocks Warriors Tackle Football team because my experience with the Warriors parallels that of the American Dream. I began as a rookie on a team full of veterans. But I had illusions of grandeur. I envisioned myself making the game winning catch with the entire stadium roaring my name. By the third day of practice that my dreams felt crushed. The same feeling of failure and regret that came when anything got difficult eclipsed over me. It whispered to me, “You aren’t good enough…You should try something else.” But I ignored it… and continued to fail.

Walking off the field of my first game, I felt the tears trickling down my face and the smell of artificial turf made me sick. I wasn’t upset that we lost the game but furious at myself because of a less than stellar performance. That night my father related a story to how when his father came to America he started with nothing, working so hard he barely saw him as a child. His hard work eventually payed off when he became a successful business owner but it didn’t come without failures and setbacks. I needed to follow in his footsteps if I truly wanted to make a difference on this team.

I started running extra laps around my neighborhood to build stamina, studying film on the several positions I played, and communicating more with my coaches and teammates to create a better bond with them. By the end of the season I was swelling with tears again, this time because of a speech my coach gave about me. Coach Bobby stated, “I have never seen a young man with so much heart and drive. This country needs more men like him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran it one day.” I began a struggling rookie trying to fit into a team of seasoned veterans and ended an outspoken leader and top player.

Every time I see a kick off I’m reminded of that first game where I dropped the ball and proceeded to fumble it after sustaining a monster hit. Football may be so important in my life that it’s like a religion to me. But it’s also a reminder to me of the struggle every American faces in their life. How we face setbacks constantly but through determination and grit we’re capable of overcoming anything. The principles that define this country of hard workers were first instilled in my mind through the competitive sport of football and it’s because of football that I continue to embody the American Dream.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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