I got a little nudge from Patch this morning. It asked “Are you going to the high school football game tonight?”
I felt a little resentment reading this as both my kids play high school soccer – you know, the other football. When I looked at the schedule, I saw there were also varsity volleyball and field hockey games going on today - yet nobody was encouraging me to attend these events.
When I read the town newspaper this week I noticed that there were about three pages of football coverage while most other teams got a single column story or, in the case of boys varsity soccer team that had started their season with a 1-1 tie against the Hamilton-Wenham Generals on the same day as the football game, no mention at all.
Last week on game day, there were a couple of uniformed cheerleaders standing on the steps of the high school welcoming athletes as they arrived. As my guys climbed from the car wearing their game day ties, I asked if the cheerleaders would be cheering them in. I was quickly corrected – they were football cheerleaders. I guess it’s more about “football spirit” than “school spirit”.
For four or five months a year, we are a nation that defines its Sunday Sabbath observance less and less by our religious beliefs and more and more by our belief that our favorite NFL team will rise to the occasion and kick their opponents’ butts. We savor the media flurry leading up to the game until, with beer and chip in hand, we settle into our couches with all the passion of a young postulant. Perhaps it’s this fervor that skews our attention toward the amateur version of the game.
We’ve all read stories of football obsession. Friday Night Lights brought it to the big screen and later to television. Multimillion dollar high school stadiums abound in some parts and all over the country there’s a certain respect for football as the king of high school sports. There’s no question that there’s a buzz around a Friday night football game, under the lights, with cheerleaders and hamburgers, that just can’t be felt watching a cross-country meet or a field hockey game.
But does the fall cross-country runner work any less hard in training than the football player? Is the field hockey player any less dedicated to her sport? Does the soccer player benefit any less from the team camaraderie and competition? Don’t all of the scholar-athletes deserve our equal respect?
I’ll admit it. I’m biased. I’m a Soccer Dad. I think my kids are awesome and therefore I want them to get all the respect and adulation I know they deserve. And so I feel bad about soccer being overshadowed by football. I’m sure the Field Hockey Moms and Gymnastics Parents have a similar lament. It’s not that we don’t like football – we just may not have had quite as much of the Kool-Aid.
I’m not going to the football game tonight. But I will be watching the freshmen soccer game this afternoon and I’ll watch the varsity play tomorrow. And the next time I see a field hockey game going on, I just might stop and cheer.