Friday, October 3, 2008

An Interesting Thing about High School Football Games

I know what you're thinking. I know. But there is something interesting about high school football games, something of which you may not be aware if you haven't been to one in a while.

They've expanded.

When I was in high school, I went to a football game nearly every Friday night. Some nights I worked at the concession stand, and others I sat in the stands inhaling the fresh fall air and the smell of burning leaves in the distance and drinking syrupy Coke from a styrofoam cup. They said those games were about three hours long, but they weren't. Not really. There was just barely time for a candy bar, a whisper to a friend, a shy smile at a cute guy, a couple of laps around the bleachers with gravel crunching underfoot, and then we were in the car, my head on the shoulder of a man who wasn't yet a man, headed for Pizza Hut.

An hour and a half, tops. Sometimes less.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I went to a high school football game twenty-four years after graduation.

Again, they suggested that it would be about three hours long.

Evening came, and morning followed. The first day.

I didn't like to keep checking the time, but by my best estimate we came in just under 17 hours.

The poms were cute.

The marching band was earnest.

The pizza was okay.

The game was your usual mix of kids crashing into one another and time outs.




About the time I was hoping it was almost halftime, I realized that they were just scrimaging and the game hadn't actually started yet.

I overheard some interesting things at the game, though.

I heard that our team wasn't very good this year.

I heard that we had about twelve guys and "most of them go both ways". I choose to assume that has something to do with football, probably playing both offense and defense.

I heard that the gym teacher from my school days who married a student wasn't the only one from that era to do so--but that they're still married.

I learned that you can't run the ball out if it's kicked into the end zone (not sure how I missed that during those four years of Friday night football games).

And I learned that if the weather is nice when you leave your house at 6:30 p.m., it will probably be LESS nice hour later when you're sitting in the top row of the bleachers.

It seems to be important to my daughter and her friends, though. They're apparently big football fans. After the last game, I explained to her what a "down" was. This week, I think we're going to try to figure out what team we played this evening.

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