Friday Night Lights


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The Christian high school I attended didn’t have a football team, but I still had the Friday night football experience at the high school in my community. It wasn’t about the football, per se, at least not for some of us, maybe even a lot of us. Friday Night football in rural communities is as much the social “place to be” as it is anything about the actual football game.

So I took the boys to a high school football game tonight, and invariably Finn started asking behavioral questions and making observations. “Why are people walking around?” was one of the biggest questions. Well, I told him, walking around is a big huge part of high school football if you’re a student. You remember walking around during football games, don’t you? You had to see who else was and let who else was there see you … and you didn’t really come to watch tackles and plays anyhow. You came for the comradarie and the school spirit and the experience. In the south, and especially in Alabama, high school football is pretty much just what you do on an autumn Friday night.

While in Indiana, John and I lived in a subdivision behind one of the city’s two high schools. We could see the bright Friday night stadium lights from our home and often walked the few blocks or so up to the school and took in a game. We knew no student there and had no loyalty to that school over any other. We were just there for the experience of it. I still have a Bloomington South t-shirt and stadium cushion to this day in my bedroom closet.

The boys and I arrived near half-time due to traffic and parking. We were able to see the bands march and the players return to the field for the second half. We didn’t watch too many plays but we did see a few. We saw the marching band , heard the fans yelling, saw young people playing a game of pickup football — the experiences that make football what it is.

We did not stay til the end of the game. We didn’t care who won. We didn’t come for the football. We came for the American Southern Friday night tradition. Not the first time; won’t be the last, I hope.

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