I love football, especially high school football. There is something so fun about standing on the sidelines on a 73 degree night watching our kids play their hearts out. There are rivalries and comebacks. There are trick plays and Hail Mary’s. There is always excitement in the air.
But when I got home Friday and checked Facebook and Twitter, I was truly overwhelmed by post after post of pictures from the game (or one of the many games played across the city, state, and country on Friday night). And while there were some fantastic pictures of football, most of the pictures had almost nothing to do the game.
There were little kids sitting in the grass playing with each other while the game was happening in the background. There were cheerleaders and dance teams and band members. There were middle schoolers and high schoolers. There were veterans and a JROTC. There were moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas wearing school colors and cheering.
Post after post talked about how much fun people had. Post after post demonstrated what our superintendent and our district athletic director have both shared recently in interviews, that high school football games are about so much more than football.
In those hours, under the lights, we become a community.
Friendships are formed. Talents are unveiled. Students and parents and community members spend time together talking and building relationships.
“There is so much more than football going on here.” (Jim Sutfin)
People get the opportunity to see our students shine. We showcase the hard work of so many groups who perform on those nights. And it goes well beyond those on the field. Our students sell concessions to raise money for their activities. They support their fellow classmates with cheers and applause and respect when they perform. And they represent their schools and districts with pride.
Teachers and administrators who have retired come to the games. Elementary and middle school students come with their families and imagine what it will be like when they are in high school. Current families and staff members spend time together outside the school day.
We build a community on those nights and on countless other nights at orchestra concerts and cross-country meets, at volleyball games and plays and musicals.
There is magic in these football stadiums. There is a small town feeling in even the largest of cities. There is opportunity there to connect and to become stronger together than we will ever be alone.
On a side note, in Nebraska (and probably in other places too I’d imagine), we do something similar on Saturday nights. I went to my first Husker football game Saturday. I have no idea how someone who loves the Huskers as much as I do has gone 46 years without going to a game in person, but wow! For a few hours we became a community there too.
I hope you will continue to post your pictures. I am moved by all of them, and I am reminded in them that I am #Proud2bMPS.