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11 months ago

Reflections

Selected Writings & Artwork by Harriett Copeland Lillard

Football Fever

Football Fever 67

Football Fever The skillet of July has given way to the oven of August. The heat is close and oppressive and the opulent smells of summer are beginning to turn dry and dusty in the nostrils. The change of seasons is rapidly approaching. Already, the horizon bears the lazy softness of autumn. Autumn reminds me of a terminal illness during which the patient feels no pain, but knows that the end approaches with absolute certainty. It is a space between, a reprieve between life and death, a stay of execution; and although beautiful, it always fills me with an inexplicable sadness, a deep loneliness of the kind that makes me acutely aware of mankind’s longing to belong. It is a Sunday afternoon feeling. It is at this time of year that young warriors of the kingdom are trying themselves against one another in the honored tradition of their forefathers for the last few million years. Football season has arrived. … Three blocks away and up the hill, the dull thud of leather on leather and the crack of helmets signal the beginning of two-a-day workouts. Bruises, sore muscles, shin splints, jock itch, hamstring, knee and Achilles tendon injuries becomes the topics of the day, along with treasured positive comments by a favorite coach, constant verbal replays of good and bad breaks during scrimmages, and closely nurtured dreams of making the Varsity team as early as possible. Fathers (and mothers too) lean on the fence closely monitoring their son, making comparisons, taking mental notes, worrying about weight gain, height, and speed. Knowing that this isn’t really all that important, but caught up in the web of excitement. They try to maintain some objectivity, some perspective in the face of the rapidly rising temperature of the whole town. When the statewide ratings come out and Jacksboro is ranked sixth in the state in 2A classification, the anticipation becomes almost palpable. Season ticket sales double overnight, workouts take on a game-time feeling, the band practicing in the parking lot and the “Fight Song” firing them on to greater efforts. At the first out of town scrimmage, there are more Jacksboro people in the stands than the home team, even though we had to drive 80 miles to get there and the opposing team is a 4A school, probably three times bigger than Jacksboro. After we “cleaned their plow” or “beat their ass” – depending on how delicately you wish to put it – even the skeptics amongst us have to admit that this is one hell of a team. The anticipation is now verging on hysteria, and Jacksboro is joyfully preparing to fall prey to that seasonal malady known in small Texas towns as Football Fever! "Hot damn man… we are going to state!" ˜ Opposite, Harriett's son, Jason, playing football for Jacksboro. 68