August – Time for Football · 29 August 2010

It is August again. Time for all the high school players around the state and country to strap on their helmets and shoulder pads and get ready for battle on the gridiron. Time to get out all the kinks and get ready for Friday nights. Time for football.

Football season is a bittersweet time for me. I get to say hello to the new crop of freshmen and say goodbye to my family. I get to experience the strategy and tactics of football from the sideline, but never get to enter the fray. I get to feel the exhilaration of victory and the agony of defeat. Then, at the end of the season, I get to say hello to my family again and goodbye to the seniors. It is bittersweet indeed.

(Several years ago, I wrote a poem describing some of the imagery and emotions of the game. Under Friday Night Lights is in the window of my classroom and on my websites. I live it all season long, but decided not to repeat it here this year.)

Even with all its ups and downs, I love football season. I love the good times and bad. I love the adversity, struggles, angst, setbacks, and all the seemingly negative things that happen during a football season, because fighting through all the difficulties is what ultimately leads to victory. That ultimate victory is strength of character for all who are willing to finish the course.

That strength of character that is developed through struggles on the football field is the reason many a football coach says that football is like life. Some have even gone so far as to say that football is life. For me, football is a mirror of life. It shows us what character flaws we have and how we can overcome them through teamwork and individual effort. It makes us stronger mentally, emotionally, and physically if we are willing to work hard. When the players and coaches step onto the practice field, they run through drills and run through drills and run through drills. They practice, practice, practice. Those who start to love practice start to excel when they are under the lights. Those who trudge through and skip out on the pain and suffering start to wilt under those same bright lights. “Practice makes permanent,” is one of my favorite sayings from one of the coaches at my alma mater. I like to add, “You’ll start to get better, when you start to love to practice.”

Besides the repetition and practice, football mirrors life in its highs and lows. Without the lows, the highs would not be so meaningful. Without the pain and suffering, elation and victory are not possible. Life without sadness would mean life without happiness. Life without pain would be life without pleasure. I suppose that it is a bit cliché, but we need to take the good with the bad. Or as one of my brothers likes to say, “We need to take what we get and not throw a fit.”

I love football season. I love the highs and the lows, the ups and the downs. I really only hate the goodbyes. Those goodbyes to family and goodbyes to seniors. Thankfully, like most goodbyes, they are temporary. At the end of the season, I get to say hello again to my family again. And at the end of the school year, I often get to say hello to my seniors as graduates and friends. When all is said and done, perhaps football season is less bitter than sweet.

It is August again. Time for football. Time to get ready to be Under Friday Night Lights.

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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