I had to opportunity on Saturday to attend the Ravens Free open practice down at M&T Bank Stadium. While the excitement level did not come close to equaling the game day experience, this trip to the Stadium was extra special. As soon as I heard about the free practice I cleared out my calendar, and decided to show my 3 year old son what being a football fan was all about. My son was very excited about spending time”with just the boys” and going to the “football game”. I was taken back to my childhood when I saw his face light up when he saw the Baltimore Marching Ravens Band, and how happy he was to meet a cheerleader, who was wonderful to him. He proclaimed on several occasions that this was “very exciting”. After walking around the concourse, jumping on some inflatables, and getting a free football, we decided to take our seats. When we hit the top of the ramp and he saw the field for the first time, he said “WOW”. I recalled the first time I had seen the field for the first time, and did my best not to tear up as I shared that experience with him. We sat down and watched the practice, I enjoyed watching him more than watching the Ravens go through the practice. I smiled as he yelled out “Look it’s number 5!!”, or shout out “yes!!” when a player made a catch. His first exposure to the game I love was amazing, and it is something I hope he never forgets.
What the Baltimore Ravens did on Saturday allowed me to give my son the experience of going to the stadium, and seeing the Ravens. I could this with out spending a large amount of money on tickets or parking. I saw many families down at the Stadium on Saturday. The Ravens got it right by having the open practice at the stadium. Giving many families the chance to experience the excitement of Baltimore Ravens, and planting the seeds for the future fans of the team.
It also gave me yet another reason why I love sports. It was a chance for a Father and a Son to share a few hours together. It was a chance to teach my son about football and sports. It also allowed me to experience once again the reasons why I fell in love with the game of football. I got alot more out of the free practice than seeing the team that I feel will be making a run toward the Super Bowl this season.
For a short time I felt like a child again.