I was fortunate enough to grow up in a college town.
Fortunate in that I happened to be six when Georgia Southern won their first national championship and by the time I was 11, the Eagles added three more. Being that young, I didn’t even bother watching the fourth national championship game, even though it was played at Georgia Southern’s stadium and was on television. I grew so accustomed to the Eagles winning national titles that it wasn’t a big deal to the 11-year old version of me. It happened all the time, so I why would I watch?
I mention all this because the unprecedented success of Georgia Southern soured me on high school football. I went when I was in High School to our games, partly because I was in the marching band and partly because it was the thing to do in high school.
After college, I stayed close to Georgia Southern and only when to high school games as a freelance writer for the local paper. In other words, I had to get paid to go to a high school game. Eventually I got hired on by a newspaper and started having to “do desk,” which is industry speak for “sit in the office while everyone else is out covering games and then proofread and layout the pages when they get back.”
It’s a miserable job.
You’re in the office with one or two other people while everyone else is out in the community, watching games and having a lot more fun than me. (This is well before streaming video and tv shows was commonplace online, so there wasn’t a lot to do but sit and wait.) I unabashedly started cheering for the local teams to lose playoff games so I would no longer have to do desk.
I came to loathe high school football and everything it represented. Mostly because what it represented was being chained to a desk on a Friday night while my friends were out having fun. And really, who could really get excited about a high school game when the next day one of the top FCS teams in the nation would be playing just down the road. It was watching inferior football and getting excited about it? How? Why?
Eventually, I got so burnt out that I quit newspapers and went back to school to get my Master’s Degree.
This year, I’ve been doing some freelance work covering high school games for the same paper I previously worked for. And now, I’m loving high school football. The pageantry, the way the community rallies behind their team. I enjoy watching the players look for their girlfriends after the game and the cheerleaders hold up giant hand-painted banners for the players to run through before the game. I like hearing the PA announcer yell from the press box as though he can influence the officials and how there’s not really a “no cheering in the press box” rule.
So I’m sorry high school football. Sorry I held such a snobby attitude towards you.