Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh, For A Cause Greater than High School Football

This is the week when Small Town turns itself inside out for the sake of football. Tonight is the big game between Small Town and Small Town Next Door who have had a rivalry for over 100 years. I understand hometown pride, but seriously, when I drive from place to place, I can't tell the difference between the two towns—the borders are so blurred, and I'm not always sure where those borders are in some areas.

But still, it's Spirit Week, and Small Town held it's big bonfire last night. I didn't attend.

I've written about it before—people build a huge structure out of scrap wood and cardboard that is at least two stories tall, and the football players light the thing. It blazes with heat so intense, you have to stand half a block away to keep from being singed. The fire itself is fascinating, but what I find disturbing is how these teenage football players are treated like soldiers or at least as if they're doing something more important than playing a game. The crowd cheers them, old players remember their glory days and tell them not to let us all down by losing, and then everyone hoots and hollers as the boys toss torches onto the fire. As one friend likes to say, all we need now is a virgin or two to throw on the flames.

What I like about the fire is that it's tribal, and I want a tribe. People gather together for a common cause and watch the flames and drink hot cocoa. I just wish they would gather for an actual cause that we can all get behind and not some child's game that I think gets far too much attention and far too much of the public funds meant for education as it is.


kyle@sift said...

I couldn't agree with you more. If this community could be that passionate about something that really mattered we would all be happier and healthier. When I was a student at Small Town High I tutored some of the knuckle dragging baffoons so they wouldn't get suspended from playing their barabaric game.

dive said...

Our big bonfire night celebrations (November 5th - Guy Fawkes' Night) celebrates terrorists trying to blow up Parliament and the King (yay) and involves burning poeple we don't like in effigy, setting off tons of fireworks, roasting potatoes, bobbing for apples and getting very, very drunk indeed.
November 6th usually sucks.

Madame DeFarge said...

Sometimes when you see things like this, it reminds me how close we are to being a mob. Makes me feel very uncomfortable and makes me understand why crowds do unexpectedly violent things sometimes.

Mark said...

I try to be careful of belittling another's passion. I'm the father of a 'band geek' and anti-jock, and I've seen disrespect go both ways.

It's pretty easy to make something you don't enjoy sound silly. But it's rarely productive.

MmeBenaut said...

Hear, hear! Personally, I can't stand football and in the words of someone I know "sport is for people who can't read"!

I must serve hot chocolate at our next bonfire. What a great idea.

Scout said...

Mark, I was born a band geek with anti-jock tendencies. I really do understand the appeal of a sport—my issue is with the attention football is given that I believe is out of balance with the attention given to education.