I make no bones about the fact I despise most of what the NFL stands for. From the ridiculous number of commercial breaks to the choreographed TV presentations to the legalized assault and battery that's committed every game to greedy players and equally greedy owners and obnoxious fans, the NFL is NOT where it's at for me.
On the other hand, high school football. Ah, pure joy.
I haven't attended many high school games since I moved to Peoria in 1996, and I regret that. I was the play-by-play voice of Carson High School in Carson City, Nevada, for six years from 1990 to 1995. Never missed a football game, never missed a boys basketball game, called dozens of girls basketball games, built a network of statewide radio stations and called the five state football championship games from Las Vegas four years in a row, served as P.A. voice for the combined boys and girls state basketball tournament, served as a part time volunteer pitching coach for the Carson High baseball program, coached Little League and Babe Ruth teams...I was involved.
I haven't been since I moved here. The level of importance given to covering high school sports by TV and radio here in Central Illinois is something less than what I'm used to. Be that as it may, I still shouldv'e attended more games.
Friday was fun. Diane's little girl, the precocious one, Emily, is in fourth grade. She was involved in a cheerleading clinic prior to the IVC-Metamora game in Chillicothe, and got to cheer on the sidelines for the Grey Ghosts during the game. So we went. Sat in the IVC bleachers. I knew what would happen on the field, having at least a passing knowledge for which programs are winners here in Central Illinois. But I also knew that the Ghosts have been improving. So the first quarter was a pretty good football game. Six-zip Redbirds until a long touchdown pass on the last play of the quarter made it 14-0.
I love the way the Redbirds play defense. Fly to the ball like a college team, punishing hits on every play. Gang tackling is a sign of great scouting and great coaching, and the Redbirds have it all. Meanwhile, the Ghosts have a QB who can flat throw. Kid looks good back in the pocket, and can throw the ball hard.
So it was fun. Much fun. And Emily was great. So were the other kids, and the varsity cheerleaders who took the time to teach them and show them how to do it. It was cool to see about 60 kids on the track in front of the bleachers, all cheering in unison, great school spirit.
I'm going to go to more games. Gonna make myself do it. And I don't even care who's playing, that's the wonderful part. I'm just going to pull in where I see Friday Night Lights, grab a popcorn, and enjoy.