Last night my husband and I attended the first high school football game of the season—Baker versus Rocky Bayou. I won’t go into the actual game, itself, which ended with a score of 51 for Baker and 7 for Rocky. This year, since there are not enough boys to field a junior high team, the junior high is part of the varsity team. For the first time, our eighth grade son, Darion, is officially a member of the Rocky football team, rather than being the water boy. Although it will probably be a while before he ever sees real action on the field—at least until he is taller than the cheerleaders—nonetheless, he is excited to be a participant. He is easy to pick out from the rest of the team, as he is at least a head shorter than most of the other players. As the team was leaving school on the way to Baker, he called my husband with the news that he “might get put in the game” tonight. Loosely interpreted, this meant he asked the coach if he would get to play and the coach said, “We’ll see,” which translates to, “There is no way in you know where you will play tonight. Or for the next three years, for that matter.”
So my husband and I drove to Baker to hear Darion’s name announced at the beginning of the game and to watch him stand on the sidelines, which he did very well, by the way. We found good seats at the top of the bleachers, where there is a fence for a backrest and plenty of light from the stadium lights for me to read the book I brought along. (As I have mentioned, I don’t particularly care for football. Please don’t hate me.) The night was perfect for a football game.
Then the game started. Little did we know we had chosen seats two people away from the self-designated bleachers coach. There is always at least one at every game. This is the guy who critiques the players, the coaches, and the referees, and lets them know exactly what they are doing wrong, in a loud and belligerent voice. In my left ear. I’m sure everyone on the field is listening to his words of wisdom and adjusting their plays to fit with his expert instruction. Then again, maybe not. My son tells me that while they can hear people yelling from the bleachers, they can’t really make out what they’re saying. And this is standing on the sidelines, much less while in the middle of a play on the field. The coaches are wearing head phones, so it’s highly unlikely they are privy to the superior coaching from the stands. The referees, even if they could hear the angry diatribe of how they are messing up calls, are used to ignoring people. I have never once seen a referee, in response to an irate fan, reverse his decision and say, “Oops, you are right. Thanks for pointing that out to me.” All of this makes me wonder. If nobody is paying attention to the bleachers coach, why is he so intent on screaming his directives throughout the entire game? The only possible consequences of his actions are to raise his blood pressure, annoy everyone around him, and make it difficult for me to concentrate on my book.
I suppose we could have gotten up and moved, but once we had all our “stuff” settled, it’s hard to gather it all up, crawl over people, and seek out a friendlier location. The dirty looks I gave the guy seemed to do no good. One can only conclude that perhaps the guy was a has-been high school football star or maybe a wanna-be high school football star. Or a frustrated coach who wasn’t on the payroll. I suspect he had a kid on the team, as he kept yelling out one name in particular. Poor kid.
I know I have at least two or three years before I have to watch my son exhibit his athletic prowess in front of hundreds (dozens) of screaming fans. When that time comes, I will probably put my book aside and actually follow the game, with my heart in my throat, fearful of what dire mistakes he might make which will affect the fate of the planet (or his chances with the NFL). I only hope when that time does comes, I am able to restrain myself from offering my expertise in a loud and argumentative manner from the stands. But I’m not making any promises.