She plays for love of the game

Published 9:07 pm Thursday, September 10, 2009

A popular documentary that aired on cable television years ago was called “When It Was a Game.”

The series of specials used home movies of professional baseball players of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and spliced them together with narration and music about the players.

Joe Dimaggio, Yogi Berra, Joe Campanella, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Roberto Clemente weren’t just baseball icons.

They were normal people with everyday lives.

The show described a simpler time of professional baseball — a game that hadn’t fallen victim to banned substances, gambling players and outrageous salaries.

In the third segment of the series, one reviewer said the film “shows how Major League Baseball slowly but surely evolved from pure sport to moneymaking entertainment.”

To a person who remembers the older players, the series provides a look at the innocence involved in just playing a game.

That spirit is harder to find in the professional leagues of any sport today. Lampblack and rosin bags have been tossed aside for agents and signing bonuses.

The monetary value of sports teams trickles down to colleges, where licensing and marketing are big business.

Football coaches are hired or fired on the sales of season tickets, not the percent of graduating student-athletes. Probation of college programs have been more commonplace.

In the high schools, the spirit of the game is evident in the students who play hard for the love of the game and honor of the school.

Sometimes, however, even at that level schools compete on the field while fans and parents work to see which institution projects the better image.

No matter what the cost to the players and students.

So when a 10-year-old girl decides she wants to play a boy’s sport, it’s refreshing.

Mallory Freine of Selma told her parents she wanted to play Termite league football at Meadowview Christian School this year. And she was going to make sure she did.

Mallory asked the adults at school what she had to do to play football.

And she did it.

She told her father, Roy Freine, what he had to do so she could play football.

And he did it.

Tuesday night, Mallory made her home debut with the Termite Trojans against the Kingwood Lions.

She was Meadowview’s first female football player.

Historic?

Maybe.

Monumental?

Not to Mallory. She is a 10-year-old who was playing a game.

At that young age, life’s simple.

And football is fun.