Follow The Republic:
Our high school football players had started the long walk from the locker room toward the field for a big Saturday football game.
Obviously, it was years ago, because Friday Night Lights was then Saturday afternoon sunshine.
That walk was always the time when emotions simmered, kind of like the pot on the stove, the burner gradually getting turned to a higher level.
Upon reaching the goal posts, the water, and everyone’s emotions, would boil over. What usually followed would be a three- to four-minute feeding frenzy that could best be described as a slam dance.
I’m sure more than a player or two was knocked a bit silly, by their own teammates. If the ritual didn’t make any sense, well, so be it.
On this particular occasion, our one assistant coach thought he would attempt a different strategy, showing the opposing team we were calm, cool and collected, and not intimidated in the least. He told us to quietly march over to our sideline, skipping our regular dog-pile.
Being nice rural kids, we did what we were told. We kept giving each other disturbed glances on the way. “What the heck?”
That hissing sound was the air going out of our emotional balloon.
By the end of the first quarter, we were down 14-0.
Nice decision, barf breath.
Our area’s high school football programs kick off the 2013 season tonight, and the only advice I could offer these kids would be a simple, “Let ‘er rip.”
Emotionally, that is.
If North coach Tim Bless tells his students every single day that they are playing “the greatest game in the world,” it’s because he has had a love affair with the game for years. He knows that it takes an emotional investment to really appreciate the game. It’s weight lifting between the ears, with an extension cord to the heart.
Let’s hope that all the local kids who play high school football appreciate the game for what it is.
Take cliff diving, mix it with a demolition derby and sprinkle on a skateboard gazelle flip. It’s a combination of all those things they really shouldn’t do, but do anyway.
Guess what? They are going to crash and burn at times. That’s OK, and in some cases fun.
Then, along with the inherent danger, the players get a chance to be themselves. Screaming, ranting and raving is not only allowed but in some cases encouraged. In our “no touch” world, it’s OK to hug the guy next to you.
Of course, there are all those other things that society deems important. Classroom study, responsibility, determination, accountability, trust.
No wonder football players just want to hit somebody.
That hitting begins today.
For most of the seniors who begin their final season, it will be the last time in their lives they experience this kind of environment.
It’s something to think about as they take that walk to the field.
And if they get a whiff of a coach who wants to “bottle” up their enthusiasm and save it for the kickoff, I have the perfect solution.
Lock him in a closet.
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 379-5632.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.