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.