Times change, but football brings all ages together again
There is no event that embodies the true nature of high school better than a football game. Even graduation and the prom, hyped up as they are, are far too formal to represent these four years. A football game does not try to pretend that high schoolers – though some seniors may argue – are adults. It allows us, in between midterms, work and dreaded college applications, to be simply high schoolers.
Spectators at football games vary greatly, though you do find a fairly even cross-section of high school students mixed in among the parents and other fans. Some have been coming to games for decades, toting along their specially designated blankets and binoculars. Others, like myself, did not discover the joy that is high school football until recently.
In either case, the routine is the same. It all begins with finding the right seats. Avid fans know that to get prime seats, it is necessary to come hours in advance to stake out the desired territory. My friends usually try to go before school, to ensure that we are sitting front and center. There are certain advantages to being on the visitor’s side – mostly in the way of comfort – but most, naturally, prefer the home bleachers. Then there are those who come to the games for purely social purposes, who usually wind up walking around the entire night anyway, and needn’t bother with seats.
Once everyone is settled in and the game has begun, the spirit begins to set in. The crisp air, the familiar cheers (and cheerleaders), the brilliant lights: All combine to create an atmosphere that is uniquely high school. All are welcome, but it cannot be denied that the stands belong ultimately to us blue-and-gold clad teenagers with our clappers and homemade signs. It is our school whose reputation is being bolstered, our friends playing on the field, and our support that provides the basis for the popularity of the games. There is something about this pride and excitement that keeps us coming, and keeps graduates returning, year after year. Perhaps they want to relive some of the high school magic.
The most highly anticipated moment of football season arrives, of course, with the homecoming game. Walking around school during spirit week – the week immediately preceding the game – I noticed the lightened mood of my classmates and the surprising amount of participation in spirit days, each with their own theme. This year’s spirit day themes were Tie/Red Lipstick Day, Decade Day, Twin Day, Mismatch Day, and the traditional School Color/Senior Toga Day. As a freshman, I swore up and down that I would never be caught dead in a toga. I ended up decked out in not only a blue toga, but gold ivy and a crown, as well. I also particularly enjoyed Decade Day. There were plenty of kids in the standard Sixties and Eighties outfits, but also a good range from the other decades. The classes competed to see who had the most spirit, and as usual, the seniors came out far ahead of any other class.
Spirit week concludes with the Powder Puff football game on Friday afternoon. This game is fondly known for its male cheerleaders, complete with the short skirts and rehearsed dances. Both teams played hard, but once again, the seniors came out on top.
The Powder Puff game was followed by the actual homecoming game, played against C.K. McClatchy of Sacramento. The bleachers were packed and the team was ready. School spirit was at a high that is reached only once a year. The megaphones, silly string, and hot chocolate were ready. As I looked around at the crowd – a mass of blue and gold – I realized that the reason high school football maintains such a hold on people is that it is always the same. People have always rallied around their high school football teams more than any other sport. The individual players and fans may change, but football games from the 1950s, the 1970s and today all look very much the same. The only difference is the color of the uniforms.
Erin Johnson, 17, lives in Grass Valley and is a senior at Nevada Union High School. Write her in care of Youth Page, The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945, or at
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