To many, the newspaper business seems glamorous. It’s that way with most professions that you don’t work in. “From the outside it’s a castle, from the inside it’s a prison,” is a phrase I like to use.
It’s that way with anyone’s profession. No matter how much we enjoy what we do for a living, it’s still a job. Working at it 40, 50 or even 60 hours a week, can begin to wear on you.
That’s why I look to the little rewards in my profession. I’m sure many of you do the same thing. For me, it’s being at the local football stadium on Friday nights in the fall. I told a local athletic director recently that it was my reward for making it through another week. He laughed as I believe he understood just what I was saying.
To me, there will always be something special about being at a high school football game on Friday night. I’ve been doing it since I was old enough to know what a football was. I’ve always enjoyed getting to the stadium early (very early) and soaking the entire atmosphere in.
It’s about the booster club members and parents who are there hours before kickoff cooking hamburgers and hot dogs, getting ready to sell tickets and preparing to park fans when they arrive at the stadium. It’s about seeing the first group of players take the field for pre-game warmups. It’s about the cheerleaders and band members preparing for another Friday night. It’s about the team managers setting up all the equipment on the sidelines and trying to get everything accomplished on their “to do” list before kickoff.
It’s about the two head coaches meeting on the field and talking about their respective programs. It’s about watching the scoreboard begin the official countdown to kickoff with an hour still to go. It’s about the look in the players’ eyes as they prepare for another night of what they hope will be gridiron glory.
High school football is a slice of Americana that, to me at least, will never grow old. I’ve learned it doesn’t even have to be your alma mater any more (although I do miss seeing my old school play on Friday nights). It’s seeing a team, coaches, cheerleaders, band members, fans and a community working together for a common goal. So many lessons can be learned from being a part of a team. I believe this is especially true when it comes to high school football. The memories made now will stay with these players, and all involved, for the rest of their lives.
I’m not as young as I used to be but on Friday nights I can still relive childhood memories of being at the football stadium. Games played 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago still seem like they were yesterday. I often forget to bring my notebook to work, but I can always remember gridiron memories from decades ago.
The only negative about high school football is it doesn’t last long enough for me. The hours spent at the stadium on Friday nights seem to fly by. I wish I could somehow bottle up the feeling and use it during the work week.
So as I plan to return to the field this Friday, I continue to tell myself it’s only six days, five days, four days, three days, two days and then one day away. We have something special in high school football. It’s a big part of why I am in the profession I am in.
And what better way to stay young — even if only at heart — than to see this generation competing for their school, their fans and their community. Here’s to high school football and what it means to me and what I’m sure it means to you as well if you have reached this point in this column.
Chris Bridges is editor of the Barrow Journal, a sister publication of The Banks County News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.