Just before Christmas the champions of Texas scholastic football were crowned in what has become a four-day event like no other. The quality of play was, as expected, excellent. The fact that such …
Just before Christmas the champions of Texas scholastic football were crowned in what has become a four-day event like no other. The quality of play was, as expected, excellent. The fact that such high quality football came from teams composed of 15-18 year-old athletes is simply astounding.
The state championship games mark the passage of another year in a sport which has for a long time defined growing up in this state. With proper management and attention to preparation and safety, the game will continue to thrive in Texas.
For some folks – this writer one among them – it is also a sad occasion, as it means the long wait ‘til next fall.
It is hard to describe how a game which many of us played decades ago still pulls so hard at one’s heart.
The characteristics of the game – teamwork, discipline, effort, sacrifice – are well known and feature in every team’s ethos. Reflecting on the game, however, does not specifically recall any single attribute.
What is it then that after 40+ years renders such an emotional reaction to Friday nights?
What often is not apparent in one’s youth can become crystallized with the passage of time. What wasn’t perhaps fully realized at the time was that football is above all else a preparation for life.
Surely that was explained at the time, but with one’s life yet fully ahead, paying attention to why something is important is often overlooked. It’s just a game, right?
Considering these ideas while watching the championships games, a thought consistently recurred. How successful had my game of life been played? Were the concepts of teamwork, discipline, effort and sacrifice adequately applied? How could the game have been played better?
Such questions don’t bother a youthful mind, nor should they. Youth has a fuel which burns hot. Every day is a surprise, every road travel-worthy, and adventure is the signpost.
However, in retrospect, the experience of scholastic football leaves lasting effects. Seeing each class of young athletes complete this process of life preparation resurrects those emotions and gives pause for judging our own effort on the bigger field of life.
And that is a good reason to be a fan.
The championship games were sheer entertainment. Finding some reason to cheer one team or the other was easy. Maybe it was something known about that specific town or a unique type of offense that a team ran or the conduct of one team in the initial series of downs; there was always an easy reason to find a favorite.
The end, when the time expires, is also required watching. From ecstatic joy to extreme disappointment, the youngsters cannot mask their reactions. Welcome to life. You have been well prepared, play it with all the grit you can muster.