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Soccer Dad

Thoughts on the dominance of high school football.

I got a little nudge from Patch this morning. It asked “Are you going to the 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 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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Fred Chalmers September 16, 2011 at 05:29 PM
John, you raise some interesting points, but I can tell you this: as a former Hornet Football Dad and a youth football coach, I've attended more football games than I can count. When games were played on Saturdays, you could count on the fingers of both hands the number of non-relatives sitting in the stands. The 'crowds' consisted mostly of relatives of the players, cheerleaders and band members, plus a gaggle of kids playing touch football over on the practice field. I can't tell you how many times the visiting crowd outnumbered our home crowd. It wasn't until lights and turf were installed and games were moved to Friday nights that the crowds grew, due in part to the lack of other things to do on a Friday. I suspect that the other HS sports draw bigger crowds when their games are played under the lights.
Mel Webster September 16, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Great points, John. I think football gets most of the ink and a lot of the attention, because traditionally it has been THE sport in the U.S. A. The NFL owns Sundays and Monday nights, while there must be 25+ college football games on each week. Thank the good lord we don't live in Texas or other Southern states where football is so big that some schools play in stadiums that seat 30,000 or more fans. Imagine the lack of attention that must be paid to the other sports teams in those areas of the country. I too am a soccer guy, but also consider myself an all sports guy. I think the only sports team at North Reading High for which I have not attended a match is the golf team. And from what I understand, one really can't go and watch the golf team. I try to attend as many games as I can for all of the teams. Those days that Fred describes of fewer home fans in the stands than visiting fans were not too long ago and I remember sitting with 50-100 people to watch the games. It was sad and I am glad that more people are turning out at our great, new turf facility, for Friday night games. I think it is important to support all of the teams and I think it is great that the girls and boys soccer teams and field hockey will play a couple of games under the lights. Bottom line with football though is the pageantry, with the marching band and cheerleaders, etc., is a tradition that it tough to contend with.
Mel Webster September 16, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Forgot to add one thing: the North Reading field hockey team has won its first two games of the season -- the first time it has done that since field hockey was brought back 7-8 years ago. In addition, it is the first time the team has won more than one game in a season since the sport returned to varsity level. Back in the day, when Trish Curtin played, North Reading was a powerhouse in field hockey. Hopefully those days will return. Go, Hornets!
susan holsing September 22, 2011 at 04:21 PM
John, you raise many interesting and valid points and I agree with your point of view. As a parent of two NRHS graduates, I can tell you that, yes, much coverage in the fall is given to the football team. Yet, how many people actually know that most articles seen in the local paper with regards to the other fall sports, girls’ and boys’ soccer, volleyball, field hockey, golf and cross country, are written by the students. If the students did not take on this active role, there would be virtually no coverage or very little publicity the other high school sports. As a parent of a four year NRHS field hockey player and one who still continues to play in college, I still actively follow the NRHS girls field hockey. In fact, I emailed the editor of the North Reading Patch last week after I saw that North Reading Field Hockey won its second game. She did place a note on the Facebook page of the North Reading Patch, but here we are a week later and the team is now 3-1-1, the most wins since field hockey was reinstated as a varsity sport in 2003 and yet still no mention on the North Reading Patch. This is even after a tip was submitted.
susan holsing September 22, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Yes, football is considered the iconic American sport , but as long as football is given more press coverage than the other sports, it is a self fulfilling prophecy that more fans will attend and more stories will be written. The fact remains, all high school athletes work, practice and play just as hard as the football players. All school teams should receive equal press coverage both in the Patch and in the local paper. A small town such a North Reading should be able to buck the trend and give fair and adequate coverage to all high school athletes.
Joe Veno September 22, 2011 at 10:55 PM
Am i reading this correct? You people are upset that Patch asked the question, :"Are you going to the High School Foorball game tonught" ARE YOU SERIOUS GETTING UPSET ABOUT THIS ?.
John Intorcio September 23, 2011 at 01:11 PM
Yeah Joe, that was the point.
susan holsing September 23, 2011 at 01:20 PM
My point is that all sports should get the same play in the local media!!! Boys, girls, soccer, field hockey, volleyball, golf, all these kids work just as hard and are devoted to their sports just as much as football players and should receive equal media time. I see the local paper had a nice spread done by a reporter on the field hockey team's great start to the season. The Patch is still absent on the issue and yet another note regarding things to do today with regards to tonights football game. Equal time for all sports is what I am asking!!!!
Laura Kernan September 26, 2011 at 12:46 PM
Ugh. Yes, too much football. I'm not a parent, but it is really discouraging how much support is given to HS football teams while other sports, where the athletes work just as hard and are just as talented, are given so little in comparison. And then just imagine you are a student involved in the arts...yes, the band does exist for a purpose outside of the pageantry of the football game. When I was in HS in Ipswich, our concert band and jazz band won awards both in-state, regionally and internationally. We also had several students selected by audition to play in premier youth orchestras and wind ensembles at New England Conservatory which played internationally, including China, England and Russia. There was a lot of hard work going on, yet how much coverage do you think the band got when they gave a performance? It's important to support all of our young people in their pursuits.
Joe Veno September 27, 2011 at 01:23 AM
John, That was a simple question. What dio you mean "That was the point"?
John Intorcio September 27, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Joe - It was a simple answer!! You asked "Am i reading this correct? You people are upset that Patch asked the question, :"Are you going to the High School Foorball game tonught" ARE YOU SERIOUS GETTING UPSET ABOUT THIS ?" And I answered "Yeah Joe, that was the point."
Tom September 27, 2011 at 01:05 PM
Why is it hard to understand that as families of HS athletes, we enjoy the coverage of the football games, but not when it is nearly exclusive to all other fall sports? In fact more students athletes don't play football than do, yet football get 95% of the coverage. All I think these folks are asking for is equal time, which is a simple request.
Joe Veno September 27, 2011 at 01:25 PM
I find it interesting that I do not hear these complaints when another sport is in season, for instance Baseball. Why don't you folks complain about other sports when they are in season and football is not? I am not saying one sport is better than another. I support all sports.
John Intorcio September 27, 2011 at 02:42 PM
Joe - You're right, I've unfairly focused on football. I'll get to work on rants about basketball and baseball and try to have them ready in time to post during the appropriate seasons.
Eileen M. September 27, 2011 at 04:48 PM
Baseball is more over rated in this town than football. The CAL is a joke. Something about big fish in a small pond.
Joe Veno September 27, 2011 at 09:06 PM
John, Thank you for understanding where I am coming from but. I just wish we did not need to publish articles like this. These kids go out there and play their hearts out in all sports not just football and some people are slaming them on the internet. I have coached many kids in this town and believe me, articles like this have a negative affect on the kids and the team.
John Intorcio September 28, 2011 at 12:27 AM
I sure wish we didn't need to publish articles like this too, Joe! It scares me how much we think alike.

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