I live a few blocks away from a high school, and in the fall we can listen to football games being played from our backyard. Tonight, I have my windows open and I’m listening to a combination of the football announcer, the band playing and crickets chirping. Guy Fieri and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives flashes across my almost-muted TV.
This is a fairly typical Friday night for me these days, but back in high school Fridays made for long days.
I was in the marching band, first as a flute player then later as a member of the colorguard. Friday nights meant game time. There’s a reason why all the high school football movies are set in Texas. There’s a rabid love for the game at the high school level that I just truly don’t think anywhere else can duplicate. There’s a passion and a love for football across the country, but its definitely amped up a notch or two down there.
In my hometown, I think we lived for football season. It’s when the town came to life. It’s when there was a little extra pride to be found in everyone’s eyes.
As I said, Fridays were long days for me during football season. I lived in the country, which meant when school let out, I almost never went home between school and game-time. There just wasn’t enough time to make it a worthwhile trip. Many times I would leave home around 7:30 am, and I’d not return home until well after midnight (if it was an away game). But that didn’t matter. I ran on an adrenaline that no cup of coffee could ever recreate.
It was all about the lights and the field. It was about the war that was going to be waged goal line to goal line. It was the sound of the band and the smell of the popcorn. It was the little kids watching with glowing eyes; some day they’d play the game or be the cheerleader. It’s the socializing side of the night, when friends would get together and gossip about their week. It was the parents watching with pride (and the mothers watching with a little big of fear). It was the sound of the announcer’s voice booming over the speakers.
Eventually, though, we all graduate. We play our last game. March our last half-time show. Cheer our last cheer. Sing our school song with arms around our classmates for the last time. We close that chapter of our lives and we all move on…
…until we hear that announcer across a quiet late-summer/early-fall night. We hear the horns and the drums and the clash of helmets. And if only for three or hour hours we go back to those high school glory-days and let today’s worries and stresses get washed away.
It’s the magic of the Friday night lights, and I, for one, am glad they are back.