Time to kickoff football season
Opening day for the Granger, Cavalier, Tiger and Panther football teams is approaching rapidly, and I am ready.
Its time to trade in gardening tools and beach towels for a Friday night bleacher seat and a bucket of chicken wings on Saturday. Football season is not just a welcome cooling of temperatures, it’s a circadian-like rhythm of weekly anticipation. We discuss the upcoming game with anyone who will listen. We watch the game with alternating extremes of exhilaration and frustration, as our team’s fortunes ebb and flow. Then we discuss the game we’ve just watched until its time to start discussing next week’s game.
In general, I like amateur football more than the Sunday version. The risk of serious injury is less. And the reasons for playing are much better.
The LaGrange Grangers don’t play football for money. They play for respect, they play for each other, they play to have a stranger tell them “Nice game”, or maybe get their picture in the paper. They sweat through two-a-day practices in the hottest part of the summer, running at full speed under twenty pounds of pads and helmets, with no certainty of reward – only the possibility of celebrating a win one night with their teammates. If they lose, the only other people who truly understand what it feels like are those same teammates.
When the Troup Tigers take the field they are more than just a football team. For 48 minutes they are the physical representation of a school system which has tried for a decade to develop the children in our community academically, emotionally, and physically. We cheer for the plays being made on the field, but we are also cheering for the dedicated teachers, coaches, and administrators whose efforts have made the idea of a football team possible.
Fifty years from now, many members of the Callaway Cavaliers won’t be able to remember who was in their chemistry class, or who they took to the homecoming dance, but they’ll all be able to tell you who they played football with, and what positions they played. Endless repetitions of practicing plays make you aware of everyone on the field. It’s a close-knit club, and membership is for life
Our LaGrange Panthers are slightly different; college football is a different game than high school football. Every Panther was one of the three or four best players in high school, so the competition is fierce, and the game takes a harder physical toll.
Linemen have trouble taking notes in class because their fingers are swollen. Running backs on crutches are a visual contradiction to the belief in immortality that most football players have. College football requires a degree of year-round commitment and sacrifice that is not always fun. The LaGrange College Panthers play football because they are boys becoming men, and they are beginning to understand that some choices in life can be worthwhile without always being fun. The lessons learned about competition, commitment, loyalty, and work ethic will pay dividends forever.
I’m proud of the teams we have, and the way our community supports them.