Why do people attend football games? Is it to see the action on the field? Is it a chance to get together and spend time with friends and/or family? Is it to lend support one’s favorite teams or schools? Or is it just a fun way to pass the time, reveling in the atmosphere of one of the greatest sports on the planet?
If you asked me, and I just did, I’d say all of the above. And even though I don’t really get into high school football the way a lot of people do (years of riding the pine will do that), I understand the thrills of watching tomorrow’s stars - or at least your kids - do their thing under the Friday Night Lights. But then again, I’m just a Midwestern kid; what do I know. Down in Oklahoma they take this stuff seriously. How serious? Pepper spray-and-guns serious.
For some reason, people love to perpetuate the myth of the idyllic small town. Usually, such myths are used as a comparison to the evil, hedonistic, crime-ridden big cities. In small towns, so the myths go, neighbors cheerfully help one another, work hard, do their shopping on Main Street, and everyone lives a simpler, happier, more moral existence than, say, effete East Coast intellectuals.
(These shenanigans are cheeky and fun. Beloit’s shenanigans are cruel and tragic.)
The truth is that the myth of the idyllic American small town is by and large dead. Wal-Marts have rendered Main Street storefronts all but abandoned, family farms have long gone bankrupt or been rendered useless by multinational corporations, drugs and crime are sky-high, and people are hostile, distrustful, and bitter. But one thing still stands to tie towns like Beloit, Kansas, together - high school football.
At my high school we had football coaches who weren’t really football coaches. They were just gym teachers or history teachers looking to pick up an extra paycheck on the side. So as you’d expect, we weren’t really the most well-coached team in the area, and our record reflected this.
Too bad we didn’t have the sons of any Hall of Fame quarterbacks at our school, or maybe we could have convinced their dad to come teach us how to actually play the game. Oaks Christian in California, who has actual football coaches, does have the son of a Hall of Famer on their team in Nick Montana, and now his father has signed on to be an assistant coach with the team.
A lot of us like to think that we’re the kind of people who would sacrifice ourselves to save someone else’s life. It’s easy to talk the talk, but few actually get into a position to walk the walk.
Young Aaron Walker of suburban Dallas found himself in that position one night in February. The former standout high school football player was out with friends celebrating his acceptance into the Army. Their car broke down on the interstate, though, and while they were pushing the car off an exit ramp, another car came barreling toward them. Walker could’ve just jumped out of the way, but that would’ve left his friends in the car’s path. So he pushed his friends out of the way and took the brunt of the force, changing his life forever (though luckily not ending it).
It’s a tragic story, but Walker’s attitude makes it one of the more inspiring stories you’ll hear this year.
We’re not sure, but something tells us that felony forgery is probably out of the league of a high school football player. Some people may be able to pull it off, but an 18-year-old whose easily distracted by tapping pencils and actually believes the claims in AXE body spray commercials probably isn’t one of them.
(More successful at preventing forgery than your average Utah cop.)
That’s why Salt Lake City high schooler Bo Ryker Jensen — rule No. 2: Don’t try forgery if your name only has two letters — is in some serious hot water. According to Layton (Utah) police in a report on the website for Salt Lake City station TV station KSL, Jensen was caught trying to buy a single apple at an Albertson’s with a $20, which, even for a grocery store clerk, is enough to make them suspicious.
Now the football and baseball star is being charged with felony forgery, with some $200 worth of bills already recovered from a ring he had set up; another teen was arrested earlier in the week for trying to pass on $90 of Jensen’s money for an amplifier at a music store.
Everyone makes mistakes. Sure, some are more condemning than others, but human beings can always work to get beyond them. That’s no longer the case for 17-year-old Billey Joe Johnson, one of the nation’s top underclassmen running backs who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after being pulled over by a traffic patrol officer in Northeast Mississippi early Monday morning. Forget layoffs and economic distress, this is about as depressing as you can possibly get.
How big a loss is Johnson to the sporting world? Well, the odds are that in the coming years you would have learned a lot more about him. The junior was being recruited by just about every school in the SEC, and he had scholarship offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, among others.
Police are keeping quiet about whether Johnson’s death was a suicide or a pure accident, but an accidental shooting that instantly kills him (i.e., that hits his head or carotid artery) with a shotgun seems like a major leap of faith. After all, he was either wielding or moving a shotgun, and the fact that he had a shotgun sitting in the front of his truck would lead one to believe he had a pretty good idea of how to safely operate one.
Prized high school linebacker and Hawaii native Manti Te’o is visiting Notre Dame, one of the schools the Rivals.com No. 9 overall prospect has listed among his finalists. It’s a long flight from Honolulu to South Bend, Ind., and the Notre Dame student body wanted to make Te’o feel a bit more welcome by handing out leis to some 8,000 fans at Saturday’s game against Syracuse.
(Prep linebacker Manti Te’o. In lei terms, he’s a stud)
Nice idea, right? Well, it was until, as reported by the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, the Notre Dame athletic department channeled the Seinfeld Soup Nazi, and stopped the Irish fans’ lei distribution plan in its tracks. “You want leis? You like leis? No leis for you!”
New York Jets quarterback and Peter King mancrush Brett Favre wasn’t the only member of the Favre family who had himself a nice weekend. While Brett was busy helping the Jets dispose of the hapless St. Louis Rams in a 47-3 drubbing — it was 40-0 at halftime — his nephew Dylan Favre was back at home in Mississippi getting things done as well.
Dylan threw for five touchdowns in Bay St. Louis St. Stanislaus’ 42-27 win over Poplarville, and the fifth touchdown turned out to be a record breaker. Favre broke the legendary Clifton Davis‘ Mississippi state record of 42 touchdown passes in a single season with his 43rd (and he did it all in Wrangler jeans!), and now he’s got folks wondering if he’s going to follow in his famous uncle’s footsteps.
As someone who covers high school football for a newspaper, I can tell you that one of the great underrated dangers out there is the high school football press box. Usually, the thing is a wooden shack haphazardly slapped together on top of an already shoddily-constructed set of bleachers.
(Not pictured: Wolf and Titan tossing demolition balls at you while you’re on the stairs)
And to get there, you have to negotiate a spiral staircase that’s tighter than the one in the Statue of Liberty, then creep across a catwalk with a 12-inch-high railing and hope you don’t slip on something and fall 30 feet into the marching band. Each time I go to a new school, a different set of challenges awaits. I’d rather do the Eliminator on “American Gladiators.”
Today, I sadly bring news that one of our brothers in arms has fallen. And since I don’t yet know if he’s going to be OK, I probably have to refrain from making any jokes, however well-intentioned they may be:
Referees: You need ‘em. You may not like ‘em, but without referees, linemen would hold on every play, NBA players would travel with impunity, and hockey players would fight all the time. Err, bad examples, all of them.
But seriously, you need referees, which made yesterday’s Region 7-AAAA playoff game in Georgia so unfortunate. The referees’ association just plain forgot to assign any (did we mention this was a regional championship? It was. Whoops!).
To make matters worse… they still haven’t gotten any refs there! Everyone’s tired and hungry and… okay, I made that up. Read more…