I wasn’t sure I would write a blog entry for this week’s game. The last week of the season is exciting for only a select number of teams. Many area teams have their conference champions already crowned just waiting for the season to end and the playoffs to begin. Since most no longer have a crossover or a true end of the year championship game, only those teams with five wins looking for a playoff ticket are feeling a sense of intensity out of desperation. Sadly many teams will be playing hard this week because it will be their last time suiting up for their home team.
There is a feeling that never really goes away, the sting of a vivid memory I suppose and it always surfaces around this time of the year for everyone I’ve ever talked to. For the seven hundred and fifty or so high school teams that play in Michigan, only two hundred and fifty six teams will continue to play beyond this weekend. So for the seniors who have the sudden realization that they will likely never put on a football helmet again late Friday night, it can be a painful moment. I remember wearing my helmet long after getting back home from my last game for the simple reason that I felt most comfortable with my self when wearing it. It wasn’t just a protective piece of equipment, it was my confidence, my sanctuary, my identity up to that point. I knew that when I took my helmet off that day that I would never have the chance to put it back on again. I lost a piece of my self that day. If you find this overly dramatic then I apologize for my inability to convey just how devastating this time is for thousands of people who will never have the opportunity to play such a consuming game again. It took me a long time to come up with an adjective that best fit football, but consuming feels right although by no means is that word all encompassing. Between summer workouts, to practice in the fall, to hours of film study, and every thing in between football eats away at people, grinding those who are truly dedicated only to spit out a better person football consumes people. In the end it leaves a person that must learn to deal with loss.
Football is unique in the sense that when it ends there is no way to replicate it again. Statistics say a high school kid has less than a seven percent chance of playing football in college, so for only a select few the end of the line is constantly approaching. My cousin plays for the local town and even though he is only a junior, I don’t know what the future holds for him. I’m glad that he enjoys football as much as he does and his work ethic is something that I have always been proud of. Still yet he is running out of time and it pains me to think that he like so many others will eventually be without football. So this week my family and I are traveling to Constantine to watch him. Which is the main reason why I won’t be writing a breakdown of the game this week. The game is secondary for a change.
Football teaches at all times and for many this weekend it will be the hard lesson of how to lose. They will learn to cope in different ways, but if you get the chance find a player you admire and tell them how proud you are of them. It could be a moment that will be so vivid that it will etch itself into their deepest of memories. A moment so genuine and pure it stays with them forever. Be a moment for someone this weekend. With that thank you dad and Coach Shoemaker for using football to teach me to be a better person. Go Luke!