Another View: Tackling all that junk food on the sidelines

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Next week, I’ll be in charge of bringing the snack for one of my children’s football teams. I’m stressed about it already.

In the spring, during lacrosse season, parents were asked to take a week providing the team snack, and I dutifully signed up. A day or two before my turn came, I hopped in the car with my environmentally friendly, reusable grocery bags and headed to Whole Foods (yes, I splurged for organic). There, I picked up a dozen or so pesticide-free oranges. I took great care in slicing those oranges, and I was certain they’d be a hit. After all, I was a star soccer player as a child (according to my parents, at least), and orange slices were all I ever got. That was circa 1978.

I also picked up some yogurt-covered raisins. I realize that kids today are used to getting postgame treats that are a bit less healthy than oranges, but this was as far as I would go. For drinks, there would be no food dyes or sugary cocktails. I brought water.

I was certain that all it would take was one week of going retro, and I would start a wave of change. “Be a leader, not a follower!” is my motto. I could see the newspaper headlines heralding that sideline junk-food binges were no more!

It was a brisk Saturday morning, and I was in a good mood as I carried the snack to the designated gathering spot. The kids ran over to me like I was Santa Claus. But when I pulled out the oranges and water, their expressions changed; it was as if I had pulled out rat poison. Looking insulted, they turned and walked away, without so much as a, “No, thank you.” These kids could not even fathom a postgame snack that didn’t come in a doughnut box or wasn’t a “natural” shade of blue or green.

The only child left standing was my own. He was mortified. Ashamed. Of me. “I told you, Mom,” was all he could say.

“Wait! Wait!” I called out to the kids as I remembered the yogurt-covered raisins. They didn’t even glance over their shoulders.

I was loading my “treats” back into my car when I noticed that the team had gathered around another parent. A dad. He had brought bags of Doritos and sports drinks for everyone.

This raised two questions:

No. 1: It was my week to bring the snack, so why would he do that?

No. 2: Who had tipped him off to what I was bringing?

Could it have been my son? Had he anticipated how this was all going to go down? I wanted to scream, “Great game, everyone! Way to be healthy and active. Cinnamon twist or chocolate glazed?”

I was hurt and angry. I had shelled out some coin for those oranges. I also was appalled. I couldn’t – and still can’t – understand why parents hand out Doritos, doughnuts or Gatorade to little kids who have made the effort to get involved – presumably at least partly for the health benefits – in organized sports.

Just to clarify, I’m all for the occasional treat (and by occasional, I mean every day when the kids are at school and I’m free to eat what I want). But this makes no sense. I may not really be a jock, but even I know that professional athletes aren’t downing pastries on the sidelines.

I’m not surrendering. I don’t remember who won that lacrosse game. I certainly didn’t have the winning snack. But that was just one game. You win some, you lose some. So the team members need to brace themselves – there’s a new sheriff in town, and she isn’t bringing Krispy Kreme.

• The writer is a resident of Potomac, Md.

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