Article in Newsday today> Good One!
November 02, 2005
Why high school football matters
By Mark La Monica
Maybe it's the absence of television cameras and parabolic dish microphones and how that absence somehow magnifies the sport's authenticity and natural beauty.
Maybe it's how you can never turn your head on any play and how any play can turn into a head-turning display of athleticism.
Maybe it's about the money and how there is none of it.
Whatever it is, high school football is the best sporting event to attend. Better than the NCAA. Better than the NFL.
Those were bold words. These are bolder: High school football will always be more enjoyable to watch in person.
The NCAA and NFL have way too many ancillary happenings. That detracts from the true enjoyment of attending a game.
About the most extraneous thing in high schools is whether or not traffic will prevent the referees from showing up on time.
College has great rivalries and 100,000 people in one stadium. And yes, the NFL is the NFL, with its professionals and its big money. Not to mention its injury reports – made public for gambling purposes no matter what the league may claim to the contrary – and its know-it-all analysts telling us to start Peyton Manning this week in your fantasy league.
High school has none of this. Just a bunch of kids on a field playing for the team, playing for the fun of it, playing for the affections of the girl in the front row of the bleachers.
And there is a sincere quaintness about being charged $2 for "hot chocolate." We know going in that it's nothing but warm slightly chocolate-flavored water. Does that stop us? Not a chance.
Chaminade played St. Anthony's last Friday night and more than 2,300 people were there to watch it. Friends and family. Students and teachers. Alumni and general fans.
One Chaminade alum dealt with rush-hour traffic from New Jersey, hoping to catch at least part of the second half. He did -- the part when St. Anthony's scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a 44-30 win.
"The game," he said "it had kind of a surreal feel to it."
The lights. The pitch black sky. The breath of players visible from 40 yards. NFL Films would have drooled.
Maybe it's how names such as Eanuzel and Marchassalla mean less than a little in the world's world but so much in their world.
Maybe it's how your toes were freezing, but you'd do jumping jacks to stay warm before leaving early.
Maybe it's the rarity of the pass, and how that makes aerial advancement of the football even more exciting.
Maybe it's how cool it is to sit in traffic for 12 minutes trying to get out of the school's parking lot after the game.
Maybe it's how these kids took a yellow school bus to the game and how that yellow school bus is not a Cadillac Escalade or a Hummer H3.
Maybe it's how these kids took a test in school that day and how this game isn't their job.
Maybe it's how, for some, this is the best it will ever get athletically. Some may play in college. Some may even get paid to do it. And maybe, if they're lucky, three or four will get a shot at being signed as a free agent after the draft. One or two may even hear their name called on Draft Day.
But the overwhelming majority will take their helmets off later this month and never put it on again. They will hand in their uniforms to the equipment manager and wait until the Alumni reunion game to wear it again.
Such finality adds to the infinite magnificence of high school football.