Kid and Pi FootballDear Kid,

Pi is off to the High School Football Combine.

I thought the Combine was called the Combine because it combined several different physical tests.

Nope. Grandpa Hank, who knows all kinds of interesting bits of information, explained that in Days Gone By (that is prior to 1982), NFL teams had to schedule individual visits with the players they were considering recruiting from different colleges. All of this dispersed testing was not only difficult for the coaches and players, it was expensive for the owners. On the plus side, it meant that the sports writers got lots of trips to exotic places like East Nowhere in order to interview everyone and report on the potential for a promising collegiate upstart to break his leg three games into the season.

Not caring one whit about the discomfort of the sports reporters, but caring deeply about their gross profits, the NFL owners decided to Combine these different tryouts. Why they don’t call ‘em tryouts, I have no idea. Clearly, no one asked me. The Combine is now permanently in Indianapolis.

I did some sneaky in-depth research of my own and discovered that none of the tests requires cramming anything but pasta the night before.

In case you’re interested, the tests/evaluations include:

  • 40-yard dash (to test for speed)
  • Bench press (to test for strength)
  • Vertical jump (to test for springs)
  • Broad jump (to test for horizontal springiness)
  • 20 yard shuttle (to test for directional changes)
  • 3 cone drill (to test for ice-cream eating ability)
  • 60-yard shuttle (to test for long-distance direction changes)
  • Position-specific drills (to see if you really can do the job they’ve watched you do in college games for the past four years)
  • Interviews — each team is allowed 60 interviews in 15-minute intervals (to test for ability to deal with sports writers)
  • Physical measurements (no comment)
  • Injury evaluation (You break it, you bought it. Who wants dented merchandise?)
  • Drug screen (to test for inoperable stupidity)
  • The Cybex test (to test joint movement)
  • The Wonderlic Test (to test brain movement. The Wonderlic test was invented by super genius Kathy Kolbe’s dad. Different story.)

Turns out that—as with many things—past behavior/past performance is a much better indicator of success than any of these nifty test. However, the Combine gives sports journalists and broadcasters much more convenient access to everyone.

In high school, pretty much nothing is combined and—at least at our school—the results don’t have much to do with being on the team (although it might impact Varsity/JV status).

I’m hoping the HS version doesn’t include an injury evaluation or your sister will be there twice as long as anyone else. One of her big goals for the summer is to get all her muscles and joints and whatnot in reasonable working order so she can compete as a healthy athlete. Or at least start the season as a healthy athlete. Sigh. Oh, Pi.

As you are no doubt aware, the child has every intention of making the Varsity team (now that someone has graduated and left a critical kicking vacancy there). If determination and attitude have anything to do with it, she’s a shoe-in. If size is at all a factor, maybe not so much.

Cross your fingers, toes, and kicking cleats for her please.

Love, Mom