Monday, July 23, 2012
Just one home game in first four, for football Tigers
Once Prairie Pioneer Days is past, we begin to think about high school football. The thinking accelerated last week with the mailing of the school calendar.
I think any MACA football fan has to be disappointed by the schedule for 2012. Would you believe there's just one home game among the first four? And that home game is the opener on Labor Day weekend, when attendance can slip due to holiday weekend commitments.
I remember many years ago, when the pep band failed to play for the opener at Coombe Field - this was when we actually expected the pep band to play for home games - it was explained to me that too many of the kids would be "gone" because it was Labor Day. Fine, but these home football games are precious. There are only four regular season home football games. The playoffs aren't even guaranteed.
It really seems odd, if you're objective and rational about this, that we should have such an elaborate and fancy facility for football when the games are really infrequent. The upcoming football opener will probably be "saved" from an attendance standpoint by the fact we're playing Minnewaska Area. A lot of that Pope County money will be coming over here.
The Tigers will play at Paynesville on September 7, at Sauk Centre on September 14 and at Benson on September 21. We all know that in Minnesota, the odds of colder and less pleasant weather increase as we get further into fall.
The Tigers finally play at home again on September 28 but why isn't that the Homecoming game? Why wait until a week later? Maybe I'm not meant to understand such things.
On September 28 the Tigers will host ACGC. Then finally we'll get the Homecoming game on October 5. How will the weather be? We'll just have to hope.
The Tigers resume their traveling ways again on October 12 when the destination will be Lac qui Parle Valley. Finally the Tigers will get to play their fourth and final regular season home game but this will be the MEA week game (the old terminology) on Wednesday, a day of the week that certainly doesn't promote the best fan turnout. And the temperature could be cold.
What an incredibly lousy schedule - ironic considering how this community pushed for such a state of the art football facility.
The gloom is compounded also by all the news about head trauma problems connected to playing the sport of football. We are learning more and more all the time. We might actually have a moral obligation to discourage our young men from playing football.
It's not my decision, but the research I've pored through online points to unmistakable concern. We must be receptive to it. We must not be like the mayor of Amity in the movie "Jaws" who, when informed there was a shark lurking in the waters, voiced concern about the effect on tourism.
We may end up viewing Big Cat Stadium as a monument to excess - an offshoot of the go-go years of the stock market when we felt the sky was the limit with regard to everything. We got the RFC here in Morris. Of course, if you simply eat sensibly - an elusive objective for most people - and get normal exercise from taking walks, you don't need an RFC. We won't need a Big Cat Stadium when the wave of insights from health research begins to persuade most parents football isn't advisable.
Some people will read this and gnash teeth. Football is so embedded in our culture. So many fathers played it themselves. But just because you are invested in the sport from the past, doesn't mean you should put on blinders now. Ironically, countless former NFL players who got their livelihood from the game have no qualms becoming skeptical about the sport. Many former players are now saying they "simply didn't know" the sobering consequences of playing this manhood-defining game.
Gender roles have been evaporating anyway. If your purpose in playing football is to somehow assert masculinity or toughness, you belong in another age, just like guys who think they proclaim masculinity by being able to pop open the hood of a car and troubleshoot an engine. In a previous time, yes. These days you come across a feature in the media every few months about a guy who tackles his car problems and brings calamity, when he could have just taken his vehicle to the dealer who'd hook up a computer to it.
Gender roles, to be blunt, have been evaporating, meaning that the exclusivity of football with boys could be headed toward extinction. Perhaps it's something to be heralded.
I have had conversations with two prominent male citizens of Morris recently who are in denial about some of the danger signs with football. One says the rules of the game can be adjusted, and another says that advancements with helmets will be the panacea. They seem to want to change the subject quickly. They don't make good eye contact. I told them I've pored over material that makes their assertions look suspect. I told them I wish I was wrong, but that football simply looks like bad news, and the research is following the pattern we saw with cigarette smoking.
Could lawsuits snuff out high school football? It's a real possibility but it's sad if litigation is the force needed to make schools change. Schools should naturally be proactive.
Some voices are rising up, like a school board member in the eastern U.S. name of Patty Sexton. Patty made an innocent remark to the effect "we shouldn't be funding gladiators." She wasn't seeking attention but in this Internet-oriented age she got it.
Apologists for the sport are in denial, having invested too much in the game and received too much from it, to reverse course now. They soft-pedal the risks. They come up with the usual cliches about how wonderfully character-building football is. Look how much character was instilled at Penn State University. Or maybe not. We're hearing of the sanctions toward PSU today (Monday).
Football has grown from mere sport to false idol. Maybe the spiritual perspective ought best guide us.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org