Why I Love High School Sports
Late in the day at work on Friday, a co-worker asked what I had in store for my weekend. I explained I’d be going to the local Friday night high school football game.
She replied that she has never ‘gotten’ sports – that it all seems so senseless, making such a big deal out of playing a game.
I responded that for me the charm and appeal of sports, especially at the high school level, rests in the fact that for the kids who are playing, nothing in their lives will ever be this important to them, at least until they have children of their own.
And, I said, sometimes something magical happens that you never forget.
I was looking forward to being on the ‘chain-gang’ for the game. I’d be holding a first-down marker on the far sideline, fully expecting to be on the same side of the field as the home team, which would give me a perfect opportunity to watch their passionate and patient coach up close, as well as better acquaint myself with the boys on the team.
There was an ounce of disappointment when I realized they had opted to occupy the near sideline, meaning the chain gang would be on the visitors’ side of the field.
Funny how things work out.
The visiting team is in just its second year of existence. They struggled to compete last season.
When it looked like they would take a 9-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, I asked one of their coaches if they had won any games last year.
He shook his head no.
Their players were fired up when they took the field for the start of the second half. It’s not every night you get a fighting chance to win the first game in school history.
Their defense was stout through the third quarter.
Then the home team clawed their way back, scoring a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make it 9-7, and it was still very much anybody’s ballgame. Later, when they got the ball back with just under 5 minutes to play and hit a long pass inside the visitors’ 30, it looked like the home team was going to break the winless visitors’ hearts.
But then #25 intercepted a pass for the visitors and took it 70 yards to the house. The PAT gave them the insurance point it needed to make it a two-score game, 16-7.
Pure jubilation was evident on every young face on the sideline, and the wide smiles were contagious. It was impossible to not be happy for them.
It was magical. And I will never forget it.
And THAT is what I love about high school sports.
There’s no question about it.