Football and Family, a view from the Hall’s "First Lady"

04/06/2016

This guest blog was written for USA Football

By: Colleen Baker

Real women love football.

Not only for entertainment but for what football does for our families, children, communities and country.

At our house, it is always faith, family and football.

baker-colleen-400-updatedThrough good times and bad, football has been the campfire around which our family gathers to warm our hearts. It provides a spirit of hope, unity and purpose in difficult times. It lit the light of inspiration shining on the values, character development and life lessons that are critically important in a superficial world flooded with social media, reality television and pop culture.

My husband David Baker is the president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Like all good husbands, he listens to his wife. When the opportunity arose to serve in that position, I told him he absolutely had to take it. It wasn’t for the money, the title or the fun in having the coolest jobs ever. We moved from more money, easier work and a beautiful home because we are repaying a lifetime debt to sports and all they have done for our family.

We fell in love 23 years ago after we had both been divorced several years. I brought a teenage daughter and son to our relationship, and he brought two younger sons. We came from different interests, but football taught us to be one family team.

Nothing brings a family together like cheering for your kids.

Just like on the field, our family would “huddle up” to plan how to overcome adversity. We learned the courage to get up when knocked down.

We encouraged each other to persevere when times were tough. We learned hard work, commitment, dedication, sacrifice, loyalty and to respect those qualities in others, even if different than ourselves.

We learned trust and the nobility that comes from fighting for a cause that is bigger or for those that may be weaker than ourselves. We learned to love the struggle in the journey as much as the destination. Most importantly, we learned to love each other and, that no matter how late it is in the game of life, there is always hope.

Football isn’t the only place to learn these life lessons, but for our family, it has been the best.  Our youngest son played at Southern Cal, where they won 35 games in a row. Another son played for a time at Duke when they lost 22 games straight. Both were NCAA records at the time.

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The lessons learned, however, were exactly the same. Our children who did not play also learned valuable lessons supporting those who did.

Today’s world is a complicated place. Our children need some toughness, grit and nobility to survive. They need to be competitive and compassionate. For many, Google is now the place to acquire information, and our schools have become a place to learn how to process information.

Where can our children learn the lessons of life and the character they will need when fighting to save a marriage, survive a divorce, face a healthcare or ethical crisis, overcome financial collapse or defend freedom?

Because of rule changes, equipment advances and proper coaching techniques, football is now safer than ever before. Every mother needs to know that if you want your child to live a long and healthy life as men and women of character and honor, they should play football. It is a game for life.

After all, the most important team any of us will ever play on is our family. 

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