Aug. 31, 2014
Friday Night Lights Special For All
Whether you're the star quarterback or the parent of the third stringer, there's something special about high school football
It's unlikely every kid who plays football will become a star like Adrian Peterson (Jenna Peterson/Adrian Peterson's official website)
Written by Jake Elman
It's a cool, crisp night, where the leaves are falling and the smell of hot dogs fills the air. Hundreds of people, from the elderly mustached man who can't figure out his grandson's iPhone 5 to the six year old kid wanting to see someone get laid out, come together for one thing - football.
As the ball kicks off, a loud cheer runs through the stadium. High school football is a phenomenon all around America, and for good reason.
Every Friday night, from Texas to New Hampshire, players tighten their pads, take a swig of Gatorade, and run out onto the field in hopes of winning and kicking the other team's ass straight back to where they came from. Those couple hours you spend under the Friday Night Lights are an escape from routine lives; rich and poor, black and white, gay and straight, all can put aside their normal lives for the sake of football.
I haven't played football in three years, but the feeling of watching a high school game, and seeing my friends (or any player, for that matter) hit the opposing team with all that they have, I get the same boost of adrenaline that I did when I was on the field.
College football started this week, and around the country, high school football seasons are kicking off with the return of school. The weeks of pads clashing together with a loud CRUNCH! in the hot, brutal sun as a coach screams at you to give it your all will hopefully have paid off in the form of wins.
Too often it seems, we put a heavy amount of pressure on high school football and only think about the star players. You could argue the same goes for any sport - when the Laker teams of Shaq and Kobe come to mind, how many people are thinking about guys like Robert Horry or Rick Fox - but it seems to be more prominent in football.
That shouldn't be the case, though. For the parents of the third string quarterback who may get some play on special teams, chances are they don't really care their son won't see time under center. Rather, it's the feeling of knowing your son is on a team and doing what he loves that's so special; there's a reason why they're snapping photos on their Kodaks or Samsungs.
At the same time, there's a good chance even the best player on the team isn't going to replicate his football success past high school. The goal of high school football shouldn't be just to knock the opposing players out, but to have fun and enjoy it.
Not every kid is going to be Adrian Peterson or A.J. Green, a fantastic high school player with the talent to become a star in the NFL. Not every kid is going to play Division 1 in college, continuing their football 'career'. There's even going to be kids that after that final game never suit up in a football uniform ever again.
Soon, we'll be trading our high school colors for the colors of a college; for me, I may be trading my red and white for green and white or blue and white, transforming from a fox into a (USF) bull or a (FAU) owl. We'll be trading our pads for textbooks, our locker room benches for desk seats, but our desire to be the best that we can be should never change.
I'm not on that field anymore as a player, but it doesn't mean I'm not involved with this game. Instead of my job being to block the the lineman trying to get to the quarterback, my job is instead to cover the game and be a 'voice' for players; they may never play again after their senior year, but my goal is, and has always been, to make it seem like they're in the pros.
Football has gotten flack in recent years for things like concussions, but during Friday Night Lights, we forget about the negativity and danger of the game. We instead focus on the excitement of pads colliding, and beauty of a perfect spiral flying through the air.
Football is about passion, and love for the game. It's a time in your life that twenty years down the line, when you're on your porch with a cold beer watching your kids play, you'll remember with a mix of nostalgia and remembrance. They call football America's Game for a reason, after all.
To all who will be playing under the Friday Night Lights this year, I wish you good luck. To all who will be watching, enjoy watching the boys of fall.
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