An Illinois High School

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A web site of memories of schools past
A Paler Season (2007)
Glory Days

I thought I would write an essay for this season. I wrote last year's essay to express my anticipation of the new season. I still do the web site, but this year my son's in college. It is now midway through the 2007 season. I waited partly because I was gone on the first weekend of high school football.   It was hard enough to get all the updates done.   I still find a mistake or am notified of a needed correction at times.

I have been to three games to watch my son's old team. I enjoy going to the games. I feel a little like a ghost, a spirit still lingering more passionate about the past than the present.  I have been to two games and watched an Internet stream of my son's college team. Football on Fridays and Saturdays takes up more time.

As I reflect on this football thing, I have a little more objectivity. This is what I have found happens when my son's not playing; I disagree with the officials a little less, but still sometimes do point out an error. The uniforms are the same, but I don't know every player wearing them.   Occasionally, a number runs out on the field and I remember who used to wear it.    A week with a key game comes without the anxious anticipation. I can think about something else. I wish them well, but not discussing the upcoming game with my son every night means I'm less involved. I watch the game as a fan of the action, not focused only on my son's position.   I wonder what am I going to do with all those sweatshirts, tee shirts, and buttons.

I think small school football is a great experience. WPT football is small school football. The WPT's smallest program has only 125 students in a four-year high school. Football was a developmental stepping-stone for my son. In football size, speed, and strength do count.<-next column->

In small school ball you can compensate for a lack of some of these talents through dedication and hard work.   It gives more kids a chance to contribute; small schools will never cut a hard working player.   Players should take accomplishments with a grain of salt; even a star is unlikely to be a division I player at the college level.   A pro prospect is almost unheard of out of 1A, 2A, or 3A. I can hear the thoughts of readers recalling a player who made it big. As you recall that one stand out athlete, he is one out of how many thousand? I don't want to dampen dreams, but to highlight the special opportunity being part of a football team is for a young person. I want to see more young people (not yet men and women, no longer boys and girls) have a positive high school experience.   A football team takes dedication from a lot of people to be successful; it is a good life lesson.  

I love everything about football: except for a few consequences of the game.   I hate injuries, especially the serious ones.   It is a risk every player takes, we let all our kids drive a car. Nothing is completely risk-free. I dislike the feuds between rival schools and their fans. A rivalry isn't a bar room brawl.   I dislike obnoxious fans, coaches, and occasionally players, but usually the kids work hard and love to play. Fans who are verbally abusive to coaches, players, or officials should be banned. Coaches shouldn't survive on winning records and poor behavior. Bobby Knight was out of control at Indiana University. Coaches should learn positive reinforcement is the most effective motivational tool. Everyone should be given the opportunity to prove himself. Kids don't all have a perfect home life; they may need extra time and effort. Parents of young players should keep JFL, freshman, and jv games in perspective.   It is a training activity meant to lead to the next level. If your son ends high school football a senior who has committed himself to always helping the team. You'll be a very proud parent.   The hours of training, practice, and taking any role asked will have made him a better person.