Sunday, September 19, 2010

The little things that make Friday night football great

It’s the little things that turn a Friday night high school football game into an event that shouldn’t be missed.

The Hands
For example, whenever I go to a football game, the first thing I look for is a monster grill near the concession stand belching out mesquite-flavored smoke. If one’s there, it means I’m going to have a freshly-cooked hamburger with all the trimmings. And if I don’t get the hamburger (which is pert near unthinkable), then I’m going to have a blackened hot dog that’s just oozing with flavor.

If there’s no grill on the premises, then that means they’re serving microwaved hot dogs and cafeteria-made burgers and those, my friend, are just not worth getting up for. Sure, I could lay down some cash for nachos or Frito pies, but Friday night football, to me, means burgers or dogs. Anything less just ruins the whole experience.

Next, I love a grass football field. I love how it feels under my feet; I love the way the blades sway back and forth in the wind; I love how muddy it can get when it rains, because football comes into its own when you can’t tell one team from another because of the mud.

A well-kept grass field implies a certain respect for Mother Nature and of doing things “the old tried and true way.” Those plastic astro-monstrosities just don’t sit well with my hamburger.

Football teams can’t function without the water boys (and sometimes girls). Most of the time they are the coach’s kids – fourth or fifth graders who live, breathe and eat up the game just like their fathers. They’re “Johnny on the spot” during the first half, running full tilt to help out the team – but that’s not the best time to watch them.

The best time to watch the water boys (girls) is late in the game when they’re getting a little bored and trying to find something fun to do. Sometimes they grab the water bottles, spray streams of water up in the air and try to catch it in their mouths when it comes down. At other times they chase after monster grasshoppers. But the best fun is when they’re trying to imitate “the big boys,” usually by hawking up lugies and seeing how far they can spit them.

Ah, to be young again.

Another two things I really enjoy at football games are 1) when the high school trumpet players hit the high notes in the Star Spangled Banner without cracking a note, and 2) when the cheerleaders throw something into the crowd after a touchdown and I catch it.

In regards to the trumpet players: I guess it’s not necessary for them to always hit those high notes – we can still feel patriotic if they can’t – but it does make a person stand up a bit taller and salute a bit more sharply when they can.

In regards to the cheerleaders: The one time I caught something that the cheerleaders were throwing – a little football – I felt bad for catching it because it bounced off a lady’s hand right into mine. Her little son looked awfully disappointed, so I did the only thing I could do – I moved to another section so I didn’t have to see his sad little face anymore! Just kidding! I gave the ball to the little boy and his smile made my Friday night football game experience that much better.

NOTE TO CHEERLEADERS: Have you ever thought about throwing “50 percent off an oil change” coupons? Boy, that would get the joint hopping!

Another thing I like doing at football games is listening to the conversations going on around me. Not that I’m eavesdropping, mind ya’, but if other members of the crowd are going to talk loud enough for me to hear them, I’m gonna listen.

The best conversations are the gossipy kinds. Sometimes at a football game you can learn more about what’s happening around town than you can by reading the newspaper. The worst conversations to listen to are the ones where two people are talking to each other, but neither one is actually listening to what the other person is saying. At first, it’s funnier than anything you’ll ever see on television, but after awhile it just gets plain annoying.

Finally, I like heading back to the concession stand during the last few minutes of the game. Sometimes they give away free burgers or hotdogs. And if that doesn’t put the crowning touch on a Friday night football game, then nothing can.

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