The Internet makes it a very small world

Yesterday I wrote about Erin DiMeglio, the first girl to play quarterback in a Florida high school football game. Uncertain about how I would react if my daughter asked to play football, I wrote a post parsing out some of my feelings on the subject.

Later that evening, Erin DiMeglio’s coach, Doug Gatewood, commented on the post and his wife, Bethany Gatewood, contacted me via Facebook.

An hour later Doug also contacted me via Facebook, asking to steal a line from the post for use with his football team this year.

I told him I’d be honored.

It an excellent reminder of the power of the Internet. Less than fifteen years ago, it would have been almost impossible for Doug Gatewood and I to exchange words. I would have read about Erin DiMeglio in the New York Times, wondered about how I would feel if she had been my daughter, conversed with my wife and perhaps some friends on the subject and moved on with life.

Today I am able to express my thoughts on the subject on a network connected to every other computer in the world, including Doug and Bethany Gatewood’s computer.

Presumably Erin DiMeglio’s computer as well.

Presumably as a result of a Google search or a Google Alert, Doug and his wife were able to find my post on the Internet and access social media to converse with me.

We sometimes forget how incredible this technology really is. It feels as if we have been living with the Internet forever, but not so very long ago, this type of communication would have been unimaginable.

It’s also a good lesson for me to bring back to my students. As we begin to live more and more of our lives online, we must remember how truly public our words are. While I have never been afraid of criticizing people when I disagree with their words or actions, this evening’s exchange with Doug and Bethany Gatewood serve as a reminder that the words we write can easily land in the laps of our subjects and often do.

I am not suggestions that criticism is wrong. Even harsh criticism is warranted at times. But it should be measured carefully before one sends it out into the world. For all intents and purposes, Erin DiMeglio, Doug Gatewood and Bethany Gatewood are sitting over my shoulder as a write,  capable of reading my every word.

Last night Doug and Bethany Gatewood did just that, and their words in response to mine meant a great deal to me. As a writer, there is nothing better than learning that my words have meant something to a person.

The fact that Doug and Bethany play an important role in the subject of my post made it even more meaningful. One of those moments I hope to never forget.   

My little girl playing football?

Have you heard about Erin DiMeglio, the first girl to play quarterback in a Florida high school football game? DeMeglio is the third string quarterback on a roster is filled with college prospects. “The star running back has committed to Miami, and its starting quarterback has offers from Navy and Air Force.”

She apparently has a cannon for an arm and has earned the respect of her teammates because of her skill and poise on the field .

DiMeglio had proved herself to the other players during spring and summer workouts, so when she officially joined the team, it was met with a respectful shrug. She has her own changing area in the girls’ locker room, and at the seven-on-seven camp last summer, she shared a room with the cheerleading coach. Otherwise, she is one of the guys, and they are protective of her.

As a father of a three year old girl, I read this story and had two divergent thoughts:

  1. Based upon the way I played tackle football and my frequent attempts to inflict bodily harm on my opponents, I would not want my little girl playing the game with a bunch of boys who are larger and stronger than she.
  2. I can’t imagine the pride that a father must feel upon learning that his little girl possesses the courage and inner fortitude required to play a game normally reserved for boys and men.

As the two opposing thoughts waged battle in my mind, I tried to imagine what I might say if Clara ever came to me and expressed a desire to play high school football.

Presuming she had the skills to play, it would be a tough call.

While I might attempt to steer her in the direction of a sport where her competition would consist of  fellow females, I can’t imagine stopping her from trying something that few people have ever attempted before.

That’s the thing about courage:  It cannot exist without risk.

If we protect our children from danger at every turn, we deny them the opportunity to be brave.

So no, I would not want my little girl to play on a boy’s football team, and yes, I would be bursting with pride if she did so.