Have you watched professional football? Many people have been. There have been plenty of exciting games as the NFL heads to the Super Bowl. With a game where 22 guys are running around and throwing or kicking a ball, there’s a lot of complexity in the game.
Over five decades ago, I was the water boy for the Greeleyville High School football team. Sometimes the coaches called me director of football, but most of the time I was just the water boy. I carried a bucket of water with a ladle and gave water to the players. It wasn’t the only thing I did. At the end of practice, I collected all the footballs and brought them back to the gym.
I had to do more work when we went to an away game. I carried a bucket and a gym bag with our practice balls. That was it. After the first warm-ups, the balls went back into the sports bag and all I had to do was follow the bucket of water.
Sometimes I had to put new straps on the helmets, but the coaches brought the box with tape and medical equipment or pieces of equipment. That was it. It was not such a complex job.
Now I’m watching a game where the players have more pads and tapes than the Greeleyville Tigers had in the entire school.
More complexity has invaded the game of football. There is no bucket of water on a modern football pitch. Now there’s a table with squeeze bottles with all kinds of specialty drinks. The quarterback who has a special diet business has his own special bottles and personal trainer watches after those. Many players need to keep up to date with specialty gear that bears their sponsor’s logo. They must ensure that the logo is displayed when not playing.
From time to time, I would bring some tape for the coaches to correct a player. Now a team of doctors stands by to treat almost any injury. It’s a lot to watch out for and I only had to hold on to a roll of duct tape.
Who knows what else these modern equipment managers have to keep up with. It’s unclear how long it takes a professional football team to pack up all their gear.
The hardest part for me was wearing the water in an away game. The players were heading to the bus and I had to bring a 40 pound bucket of water to the bus. If it was a home game, I could pour the water out and the players could fetch water from the gymnasium. I was happy when I could get rid of the water and not carry all that stuff.
It makes you wonder how it all got so complicated. I wonder what these players are doing now to make the game so fun. Sometimes we would stop at a gas station after an away game and everyone could grab a Pepsi. It seemed like the best thing ever.