Saturday, September 8, 2007

Friday Night Football

The first Friday night of the high school football season signals the real start of fall for us. High school football has been a tradition for our family since our kids were in elementary school. It’s always been a great family outing, because the kids could run around and hang out with friends, and my husband and I could relax and enjoy a nice evening outside. These days, we still go to our “home team” games at Chancellor High School whenever we can. But if Chancellor is away, we’re more than happy to support the teams of the other local schools (and we have a lot of high schools in this area to choose from). Tonight we went to see the James Monroe Yellow Jackets play the Western Albemarle Warriors (or so the photo indicates—frankly, I wasn’t really paying that close attention, although I do know we won). Despite having a brand new high school, the JM team still plays at the old Maury Stadium in the middle of town. As stadiums go, I like this one the best. The field is in the middle of a residential neighborhood, rimmed with trees, with wide stone steps instead of metal bleachers, and an almost park-like atmosphere.

Football may be my least favorite spectator sport, but the high school games always have enough to keep me interested. As a cheerleading reject (I tried out, but was passed over because I hadn’t mastered the back jump), I find the cheerleaders mesmerizing. I love the marching bands, and when my son started playing in the high school marching band, the halftime show became even more of a highlight. And it’s generally just a great people-watching opportunity, whether I run into any familiar faces or not (and I usually do). When the weather gets cold (and it can be brutal in November at 10 pm up in the stands), we bring a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate and bundle up under blankets.

The only downside of high school football is that the games are about two quarters too long. By the end of halftime, I’ve sung the Star Spangled Banner, watched the cheerleaders run through their repertoire, checked out the crowd, visited the concession stands, and enjoyed the marching band. In the third quarter, the band gets a break (nice for them, but boring for me), and by the fourth quarter, I’m ready to go. I await the day that someone invents a recliner designed to perch on the metal bleachers of a high school football stadium so I can comfortably snooze through the second half.

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