Lessons learned in the trials of a high school football fan
Last week I discovered three important lessons that I hadn’t learned in my many years of life. The first lesson is that it is tough being a sports fan, and there is always the need for advanced planning. The second lesson is that I had it very easy as a sportswriter and stats guy. The final lesson is don’t worry about the weather – whatever will be will be.
As you know, I am an ardent sports fan and I particularly enjoy high school football. For 40 years or so I was in press boxes covering games every Friday night. Yes, keeping statistics was work, but it was a labor of love. When I was in Carrollton, I spent a couple of years as a color analyst on local radio broadcasts of high school games, so I’ve seen the inside of a lot of press boxes.
Now I have become a fan, and that’s a lot harder, although I’m working on the transition. I still can’t cheer at games because there is an unwritten rule: no cheering in the press box. But what I miss most about being in the press box is that you didn’t have to worry about the weather. It didn’t matter if it rained or snowed; you were dry in the friendly environs of the press box. The only chance of getting wet was getting from the parking lot. Well, I’ll take that back – I was in the press box at Arrowhead during a deluge that caused a leak. Other than that, press boxes were dry but not necessarily warm.
Last week I learned the struggle and dedication of sports fans, particularly at the high school level. If you remember last Thursday the temperature was in the 90 degree range with humidity. Jean and I went to the Free State freshman football game, which was played at Lawrence High School. We sat on the sunny side of the field, which added to the discomfort. You had to be a relative of a player or a student to endure the conditions. The only saving factor was that Free State won.
It was a different situation on Friday. The weather forecast was terrible, calling for heavy rains and severe thunderstorms. Not willing to miss Sam’s game, we scurried around trying to find rain gear. In addition the concern of lightning was a problem because the first flash causes the game to be halted. The advanced reports weren’t promising and some games were being rescheduled. In short, we like many other fans were in a quandary.
We spent considerable time trying to locate the radio station that broadcast the game. After a nearly fruitless search which highlighted my lack of electronic knowledge, we called the radio station and the game was to be streamed on the internet. Now we had an alternate plan if the weather forecasts were correct.
After a lot of dithering and checking weather reports, we finally decided to take the 25-mile drive to Lawrence, realizing that it might turn out to be a wild goose chase. Even though we drove through rain, the front had moved through and by 7 p.m. the rain was gone. What lingered was a chilly wind and falling temperatures. While it wasn’t the most pleasant night we were far more fortunate than a lot of surrounding communities.
Was there any downside to the evening? Unfortunately, Free State lost, but that’s football: you don’t win them all. I just hope that we have dry Friday nights for the rest of the season and that we have sufficient rain to nourish my reseeded lawn. If we could order the moisture, it would be from Monday through Thursday – just never on Friday!