If you've seen the movie or read the book "Friday Night Lights" then you're familiar with the Permian Panthers (MOJO if you prefer.) The story is based on a high school football team in Texas that has high expectations and too many overzealous fans. You are told the story of the young man who has never cared about his education because football was his life, until a knee injury took away his senior year. You're told about a kid who's just trying to be a kid while his high school champion dad puts all the pressure in the world on him. You see just how over the top the fans and hype surrounding a high school football program can be.
Henderson County high school, is sort of like that. Maybe not with the case of the uneducated guy who depends on football to make or break his life. But Ohio County entertained the Colonels on Friday night at Frank Barnes Memorial Stadium and we got a taste of that passion that kills. Four, count 'em, FOUR broadcast members. I was up there alone for most of the first quarter before Bratch joined me. They had a play by play, a color, a statistician, and an on the field correspondant. Insane.
They have a Mr. Football candidate at quarterback. I assume to pad his stats, he stayed in until about half way through the 4th quarter in a 34 point ball game. They have a coach who confronted our coach because of a late score our first team offense gained against their second team defense. (That same coach confronted the officials after his team was whistled for 2 personal fouls and 1 unsportsmanlike conduct like the official were trying to EXTEND the game.) They even handed us a packet that had a statistical breakdown of every game, game highs for each game, superlatives for all season, a narrative on the season, and history and records held by the program. Insane.
This, my friends, is too much. Bratch, Dandy Don Wilkins, and I try to have a good, fun, professional broadcast of a good football team. I break down stats here and there because I like working with numbers, but I've never put together a 10 page packet. Don't plan to either. Ultimately we're talking about teenagers playing football because they enjoy it. Some want to go on and play in college, most don't. Like most youth sports, it's the fans, parents, and other numskulls who ruin it.
I wouldn't play football at Henderson County. It would drive me out of my mind. The pressure those kids have to feel is off the charts. So I'll root against Henderson County for the rest of the year. Not because I dislike them for beating us. No, I'll root against them because people surrounding that program need a big dose of humility and reality.