As a public school teacher, I make a lot of sacrifices. Some of them are little, and easily maintained, like the absence of a first name replaced by "Mister." Some of them are not as easily managed. My language choices, for example. It's pretty standard English, but within the confines of the school building and throughout the school year, my use of expletives is limited to my living room on Sundays while watching professional football. Which brings me to to the topic of today's post: Being an orange and blue peg in a silver and black hole.
My allegiance to the Denver Broncos gets tested out here in The Black Hole of Raidertown. Twice a year for the past decade and a half, I gird my fanatical loins and go out on the playground full of die-hard Oakland fans. I confess that this has been made easier for me due to the impressive winning percentage that my team has been able to maintain over their team. I am also grateful for the generally good sportsmanship that exists between my pre-teen charges and myself. I admire the way these kids cling to their hometown team the way I maintain my connection to my beloved Broncos. But every so often, the National Football League decides to open up their bountiful coffers and spread joy and pigskin passion to the communities in which they reside. Here in Oakland, that means we get a lot of Raider swag. Which makes sense. It's a promotion, after all, and the NFL is not in the business of being short-order cooks. If you're in Oakland, you get the big bag of silver and black shirts, and we are all pleased and happy because we got the big bag of free shirts from the NFL. Which brings me back to the sacrifice: Last week, the NFL and its partners in the Dairy Council offered up a great big sack of flag football equipment and curriculum to supplement each elementary school's Physical Education program. All we had to do was send a representative down to Raiders Headquarters to pick up our big bag of flag football. And that representative would participate in some training and some instruction to be able to pass along that knowledge. I was that representative.
So there I was, in my shorts and ESPN T-shirt, running drills and tripping over myself on the same field that Marcus Allen and Howie Long and all those other Raider greats practiced. Each time we came together to prepare for another drill, we were encouraged to shout, "Go Raiders!" as we broke our huddle. Of course we were. It was their field. It was their photo op. But I'm a good sport. I'm a good teacher. I wanted to make sure the kids at my school got that big bag of football fun the Raiders were offering. Near the end of the training, we were told that our big bag would be sent to our school sites by the end of September. Furthermore, if there were school sites that didn't send a representative to the training, they would be sent to those sites as well, they just wouldn't have a "to the attention of" name to put on the bag. My name wlll be on that big bag. That big silver and black bag. Ah, the sacrifices I make.