Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Personal Foul; Personal Responsibility

Our Heroes won big last Friday night--the final was something like 40-14.  Quite honestly, I don't remember the exact score.

What I do remember from the game was offsetting personal fouls committed in the third quarter.  We couldn't figure out who had done what, but I turned to my friend Shauna and said, "I know for sure it wasn't your son, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't my son." Our team rarely commits personal fouls. Personal fouls are a big deal at a school like Heritage, which prides itself on the students' "personal greatness" and the school's "academic excellence," not their stellar football record.  We all knew that whoever had committed that personal foul would be in serious trouble later.

When the game was over, I snuck down behind the huddle and snapped a few pictures.  I couldn't help but overhear the coaches reliving a few moments of the game, pumping the boys up and congratulating them on their victory.  Then, I heard Coach say, "Ben, do you have something you want to say to the team?"  This pricked my ears.

"I'm sorry I committed the personal foul.  I let my temper get away from me.  It was inappropriate, and I will not let it happen again."

Those words were coming from my son's mouth. I was shocked.  I have watched Ben play football for at least six seasons, and I have never known him to lose his temper or act out on the field when the game isn't going his way.

As we were walking to the car with our sweaty boys, I cornered Ben and asked him what happened.

"I did it.  I'm not proud of it, but the guy was holding me and our defense wasn't listening to directions, and I was frustrated and yelling, so I punched the guy in the stomach as hard as I could. Then he kicked me."  He said all of this in a quite matter-of-fact tone. 

I was embarrassed.  I was surprised.  And I was mad--ready to lay into him with a tongue lashing that would make anything Coach said to him look mild.

What Ben said next changed my mind.

"Yeah.  He was holding me and I punched him first, and then he kicked me.  The ref blew the whistle and called a personal foul on the guy, but he hadn't seen the punch I threw.  I walked up to the ref and told him that I'd started the fight, and that it was my fault. That's why I got the penalty, too"

These two penalties offset each other on a touchdown run by Estrella.  Ben could have easily kept his mouth shut and let the Estrella player take the penalty. If he had, the touchdown would have been called back--in the Heroes' favor.

This wasn't a game-altering touchdown for the Estrella team to be sure, but my racing, lecture-laden mind screeched to a halt as I reconsidered my next step. By admitting fault where none had been seen, Ben had shown that personal greatness so lauded by his school.  He had admitted his mistake, taken the penalty (at the game, in the huddle, and at practice later I'm sure), and taken it like a man.

I never thought I could be so proud of a personal foul committed by my normally mild-mannered son.

Just don't let it happen again.


  1. What Ben did took courage. He not only accepted accountability, but demanded it for him self. What would our country be like if more of us held ourselves to such a standard?!
    Well done, Ben. Well done.

  2. What a great example Ben! I have always known Ben to be a well behaved kid. Him showing courage and taking responsibility for something that would have gone unnoticed does not surprise in the least. What a proud(not in a bad way) parental moment! You guys have taught him well.

  3. Wow! Between parental teaching, good school ethics and Ben's God given personality, he has turned into such a great young man! What a lesson.

  4. What a great moment you were blessed to witness. The true joys of parenting. Well done, Ben, well done!

  5. what great coach to not demean him and give him the opportunity to apologize to the team,

    BUT how awesome what Ben did during the game! That's couldn't have been easy to do!

    And we won again...a conference game this time, against a team that we haven't beaten in years! It felt really good!

  6. This does not surprise me at all! He is a wonderful young man and has personal standards that are evident for all to see. I love him as my own and I am a proud mom too!!!

  7. I read this the other day but didn't have time to comment. What character your son displayed during that game! That took such courage and maturity...I would be so darn proud of him! Way to go Ben!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. That is so truly awesome. You have a very good son.