Pageantry on the football field

Published 7:52 pm Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friday night, I had the pleasure of getting back to what you might call “my old stomping grounds” as I covered the season-opening game between Lakeland and Wilson High School.

During my career, I have had the luxury of being a sports writer and sports editor, allowing me the chance to go countless high school and college football games — a perk afforded sports writers that others in the newspaper sometimes don’t enjoy.

Friday night’s version was oh-so-similar to the many I’ve covered before. And, to be honest, the pageantry of a high school football game may differ from school to school or state to state, but the passion of those involved is a constant.

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There’s something about the pregame events, the band, cheerleaders and parents all anxious for the start of the game. Then, there are the coaches who — from the perspective of a sideline reporter — offer great insight into the game and at times great comic relief.

I’ve heard coaches say a lot of great things over the years and there are a lot of comments heard that will never find their way inside the pages of a newspaper — a book maybe, but never a newspaper.

I’ve heard coaches talk to one another about game strategy, the chances of a particular play working, the performance of the band at halftime and even going as far as discuss about where to go for dinner after the game.

I’ve heard coaches question the intelligence and family lineage of officials and question players on whether their focus was on the game or on the dance to follow the game.

But, one of the most insightful moments of a game comes in the post-game talk between the coaches and the players. They often discuss the results of the game — both good and bad — and the plans for their next opponent. Coaches work to build up players who may have a tough outing and point out the solid play of those who made strong contributions.

And, at the end of nearly every post game talk is the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer.

Friday night’s game at Lakeland may not have afforded me all the elements I’ve mentioned above, but it was a great experience nonetheless.

This is a great time of the year for any sports fan, regardless of fan affiliation and a great opportunity to go out enjoy a game at any of our area schools.

And, even if the score of the game gets out of hand, there’s always the band to provide a great show.