"Hi, Mom!"

Perhaps more common along NFL sidelines than even the ubiquitous No. 1 signal, the index finger defiantly pointed heavenward, is the childish, almost impish wave and the mouthed words, "Hi, Mom!"

It seems to happen almost every game. The sideline camera pans the bench area, perhaps looking for a shot of an injured player being treated, perhaps just looking for an excuse to give the sideline announcer babe du jour some face time. But what they get is some random player who looks directly into the camera, and mouths the words, “Hi, Mom!”

Oh, he will probably still flash the No. 1 sign, index finger raised and all. But the real intent is that communication with Mom, Mother, the great care giver. Generally, it is given with a secretive, almost guilty posture that indicates that the player might get in trouble, somehow, if he were caught. Perhaps he fears the teasing of his teammates, as if one of them would not act that way.

Many NFL players, like many people in real life, were raised by single mothers. Many people of our current generations were raised by mothers and what has commonly been termed “absentee fathers.” That is a broad brush that paints workaholics as well as alcoholics. While the latter gets most of the bad press, the former can be almost as damaging to a young psyche.

Our society has always sent conflicting messages to our members. We seem to revel in the dichotomy of social argument. On the one hand, the big pay and perks are handed out freely to those who neglect their families by working vast numbers of hours and dedicating themselves to work related endeavors. On the other hand we praise those who sacrifice ideals of “success” and greatness to dedicate themselves to what we euphemistically call “family values.”

At the heart of all that is our treatment of women in general. Women have fought hard for decades for the right to work in our society, and while it seems that granting that right might be an assault on those traditional family values we so arduously defend, what is a single mother to do?

In truth, the image of the nuclear family is largely a myth based on 1950’s sitcoms, and almost certainly predates that era. Our society is not friendly to families in general, and seldom has been throughout its history. We, as a country, have always been willing to gather up our husbands and fathers, current and future, and send them off on difficult and dangerous assignments. Certainly, the corporate world has few compunctions about demanding that their employees sacrifice participation in family activities for the privilege of position and advancement.

The single parent family is hardly a new construct. Having been a single parent myself, I can feel for all those single mothers out there, especially those who raised future pro athletes.

Parenting is a difficult task, even without the duality of competing social mores and work responsibilities.

Anyone affiliated with a professional sporting organization lives this with dichotomy every day. After all, just being a fan can be an obsession that brooks no interference. If one looks at players and coaches and considers the amount of hours they dedicate to their profession, one has to wonder at the patience of those in their families and immediate circle who tolerate them.

Oddly enough, marriage and divorce statistics among professional coaches and players don’t seem all that bad when compared to the general population. Some might question the intelligence of a woman married to a workaholic of the magnitude necessary to compete in the professional sports world. Rather than insult those women in this column, though, I’d like to praise them. They have made a conscious choice to live the way they do, and one does have to give them credit for the conviction to their families that they show.

Most players, when interviewed after the draft, say they will buy something for their parents, or more importantly for their mothers, with their new found wealth. A new house, a new car, something that says, “Thanks for all the sacrifices you made for me.”

Now, if those mothers are as saintly as the players relate, they would not ask for the rewards the young men are giving, but in most cases, one has to agree that they are deserving. Who among us would do differently?

If you won the lottery this weekend, wouldn’t you do something for your mother to thank her?

I know I would if I could. My parents passed some years ago, making Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day for that matter) somewhat of an empty celebration for me personally.

Our Seattle Seahawks have finished their first Mini Camp for our new rookies, and a passing camp for returning veterans. Presumably, many of them will jet home for Mother’s Day,. Rookies will be busy over the next few weeks getting their contracts signed (hopefully) and getting their affairs in order for their next trip to Seattle, which should be the June Mini-camp, we hope.

Meanwhile, they can celebrate Mother’s Day. The NFL and the Seahawks have arranged their schedules in a way that doesn’t load this day with any obligations. As fans craving for news or any activity during the off season, we might wish it were different, but should it be? We burn enough Sundays at other times of the year following this obsession. How much does it really hurt to give one Sunday in May to honor and celebrate the Mothers in our lives?

So, as you are reading this, if the Mother in your life, be it the mother of your children or your own Mother, taps you on the shoulder and demands that you shut down that darn computer and go spend some time with her, know that this writer forgives you. Do it. It is Mother’s Day, after all. Do your level best, on this Sunday of all Sundays, to make sure that she enjoys the day.

Thank her for being a Mother. She will thank you for it.

And if that cosmic camera is pointing my way, let me say to my mother in the great beyond, “Hi Mom!.”

Steve Utz writes a column for SeahawksInsider.com every Sunday. Send your feedback to Steve at wisecoyote1@cox.net.



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