These days I find myself enjoying high school football much more than pro or college. The pro game has always been about the money, but when you see the best playing any sport it can be worth watching. Yet I seldom watch a game in real time anymore, preferring to record and just fast forward through most of it.
I started to lose
interest in the Cowboys when Jerry Jones kicked Tom Landry to the curb. It was time for Tom to hang it up, but it
should have been handled better. When Jones
decided he could do it all and didn’t need Jimmy Johnson around, that pretty
much finished the Cowboys for me. I’ve
always liked Green Bay and Pittsburgh.
Just the fans, the tradition; it feels like it means so much to everyone
connected in some way to those teams. I’ve
always liked the Kansas City Chiefs, even going back to the old days when they
were the Dallas Texans (yes, I am that old…).
The Hunt family is a class act and now they have Patrick Mahomes at
QB. He’s about the only great thing that’s
come out of Texas Tech football since the good ol’ boys ran off Mike Leach. So I do like watching Mahomes and the Chiefs. But that’s about it for me and pro football.
Big money has
ruined the college game. It’s always been
dirty and never really been about student-athletes. But at least we could pretend it was somehow
amateur; played for the love of the sport, one’s school and fellow students; grateful
alumni and adoring fans. Traditions,
tail-gating, rivalries, memories, beautiful autumn days when your team won and nothing
else mattered at that moment. But now, all
of that is officially gone. Drowned
beneath multi-million dollar coaching contracts, transfer portals, conference
realignment, NIL deals for the players and its own success as reality television
So last Friday
night, I went to a local high school football game. Texas high school football is a big deal and
produces players for college programs all over the nation. This game was 5A Div II and that’s a pretty
good brand of football, just a step behind 5A Div I and a larger step behind
the big 6A schools. But it’s still top-notch
football. The kids played hard and seemed
to genuinely care about their teammates and even their opponents. The coaches were hands on, encouraging the
players, concerned about those who got injured, whether their own or the other
team’s. The fans were enthusiastic but mostly
well-behaved. The players; black, white
and brown; all stood at attention when the national anthem was played. It was a closely contested game and our team
won on a late touchdown and then a fourth down stop to end the game. Winning made it better, but it would have been
a great night even if the other team had won.
The players, the coaches, the fans, the bands, the cheerleaders, the drill
teams; everyone was involved; and the communities were all made better by what went
on that night.
And that sort of thing goes on all across this nation on Friday nights. Yes, I know that players get hurt, not everyone wins and sometimes it’s just not a good experience for some folks. Human beings have a way of messing up anything if you give them enough time and the motivation to do so. Yet still there remains something of value when young people get involved in sports; whether on the field, in the band, on the sidelines or in the stands. We can only hope and pray (silently, of course) that such events survive the current tides of cultural change.
"I remember in September when the final stumps were drawn
And the shouts of crowds now silent when the boisterous cheer had gone.
Let us O Lord above us remember simple things
When all are dead to love us...Oh, the Captains and the Kings."
- Brendan Behan