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Football mom: How can I go see my son play?

Dear Football Mom,

My son is what they call a true freshman. (I’m new to this college lingo as a single mom with two other middle school children, girls.) He is three states away from home, and I haven’t been to a game all season. He doesn’t start, but he does rotate in and out. I’m finding it hard to save enough money, working two jobs just to pay the bills. Since you make sure all is confidential, we do receive some government assistance, and I still have a hard time buying groceries. Get the picture? I’d love to see him play just one game. Am I really missing out enough to skip paying an electric bill, or rent, and miss work too? Do you have any other suggestions that would help me get to see my boy play?

Dear Reader,

You couldn’t have asked a more genuine, prickly question that pulls on my heartstrings like the struggle for single moms doing all they can to see their kids play college sports. This one issue tears me up like a box of shredded tissues. I wish I had some better answers or suggestions that would really help. This time, I may come up empty-handed, even though there is always hope.

I’m assuming y’all were expecting your son to be redshirted (meaning his freshman year he’d sit out), and that would have given you a better chance to save up. Usually, redshirting players is what coaches do to give new recruits a chance to learn the program, adjust to college life and settle in. But many times, the program is in need of young players, so they become true freshman and actually clock time playing. True freshman status can be quite the honor and something to be very proud of.

While parents are proud as a pot roast done to perfection in seeing their kids receive college scholarships, attending the games can bring a whole different roast to the table — burnt crisp, tough to carve and hard to chew. Once our sons sign letters-of-intent to play for University Go Team, the real slicing for parents begins — how to get to the doggone games and watch them play without cracking a bank safe. Unless a body has been through the trial and expense of attending games, it’s tricky to understand the hardships put on families.

On one hand, the regular what I call “the bleacher-fan,” assumes there should be no problem. These parents don’t have to pay tuition like the rest of us, so what’s their beef? But what these folks don’t realize, especially for those parents whose kids play far away from home, it takes money for transportation, hotel and food to travel out of state. And that adds up in a flash. On the other hand, those of us who are what I call “the family-fan,” realize the majority of collegiate athletes come from down-home, everyday people who don’t have gracious plenty to blow on trips to see their kids play.

The rich boosters with their multi-million-dollar RVs, box-seat season tickets and club passes, find it puzzling that these parents would dare to complain. I don’t believe it’s complaining as much as it is troubling, expensive or just plain hard to get to these games for most parents.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about financial success. It’s like most things in life: unless you’ve walked in another person’s footprints, you have a hard time understanding.

Reason I bring up the bucks and boosters is that I do wish college booster clubs would begin to see the need for funding a deserving parent who doesn’t have the means to see their son play. Just one family per season would be great. Imagine the goodwill this would generate. 

I know this type of funding is a sticky situation with the NCAA, and I’m certainly not advocating doing anything underhanded, but the boosters could afford it … and make it happen if they’d have a mind to. Maybe y’all could appoint a group of folks to create a board for the purpose of, The Scholarship for Travel Parents’. Set up guidelines, regulations, and getter done. Call the NCAA first and ask if there could be a way to work it out. Stress that these would be parents whose sons have already signed. I know comping anyone while recruiting is death to a program.

My wish to help may not come true, but then again, maybe it will. I’ve had several parents and people who would like to help ask similar questions in the past. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could solve this issue for good?

To answer your question, yes, you are missing out. But maybe he’ll start next year. Then it would really be a shame if you couldn’t attend at least one game. Start saving those pennies now. 

Not usually a fan of GoFundMe accounts for frivolous issues such as starting a business, going to Tahiti or even missions. I believe they are way over-used and abused. In this case, I’d say go for it. State your case. You never know.