The football team will be entertaining before and after tonights performance by the cheerleaders.
I live in a football town. On Friday nights every household empties out and heads to the football field. It would be a good time to rob the place, because all the cops are there too. Despite a diminutive population of under 3,000, they won the state championship in 1977. They didn't see another winning season until 2003, the year my son was a senior. We start 'em young around here, the picture is of my oldest grandgirl, Jazzmin, who's in third grade. The boys her age are already playing biddy league football. All the hitting, spiking and running of the real game, with miniature players, and miniature cheerleaders.
I don't have a problem with school spirit. I don't really have a problem with football. What I do dislike about our football program is the town's tendency to make them little demi-gods. There are men off that 1977 team who are still living in 1977. That was the pinaccle of their life. I find that so sad. To have your best day ever before you're even old enough to vote. It's not quite that bad anymore.
The 13 boys that played football with my son started together in biddy league. They were undefeated all the way to High School. High hopes don't 'cha know, the pressure on these fella's was unbelievable. Their freshman and sophomore years they won more than they lost, but you must be undefeated to go to state. Junior year they lost one game. The summer before their senior year you could cut the tension in town with a knife.
They started two a days in August. I'd watch them running past the house before daylight. No talking, just the rolling thunder of sixty pairs of feet, the column led by the senior thirteen, pounding the streets to get in shape. They did everything together, my son and his twelve best friends. Dating, studying, getting into trouble, there were always 13 boys. They play 10 games a season, more if they win the district, then sectionals and then state.
They took the field that first game of the season to record attendance. They were the team to beat. Alumni flew in for the game from everywhere. All the local papers were represented, the radio stations and even the TV. It didn't get any better, they won, and won, and won. Two games from taking the district, the quarterback hurt his wrist goofing around at practice and they lost their next two games. Still a good season, but the men around this town were devastated, and didn't hesitate to let those boys know it.
My son had never made football his life, he's interested in lots of things, so this was just a ripple on the pond of life. Most of his teammates felt the same. What was important to them was their friendship, the brotherhood they formed over their years together. At the banquet that year, the tables were set up to seat four at each. As the boys wandered in they started pushing them together, until all 13 were sitting at one big table.
Four of those boys went into the military, eight went to college and will graduate this summer, one is being bailed out of jail as I write this, drunk and disorderly. The quarterback.