Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday night football: a true hometown experience

High school football season started Friday night in Missouri, and I was out amongst all the players' relatives watching the Rolla Bulldogs beat the Springfield Parkview Vikings. I say that because a grumpy city woman who moved to Missouri from California and posts her gripes about her adopted state frequently on a Missouri forum I visit says small-town high school football games are ridiculous and that nobody goes to high school football games (or concerts or plays) except for the participants' relatives.

Most of you who visit this blog regularly are not from Rolla. You are out-of-staters, and I suspect many of you are looking for information about life here in this part of the Ozarks. I want to tell you that I don't think the woman from California is right. Lions Memorial Stadium on 10th Street in Rolla was full Friday night, and I find it hard to believe that I was the only person there who was unrelated to a player. I could be wrong, of course. Dave Roberts, sports editor of The Rolla Daily News, was there to give a full report (with photos) in the Saturday morning paper. The local radio station broadcast a play-by-play report during the game. It seems to me the local media believe there is an audience for this, so I think the California transplant is wrong.

She seems to be someone who has moved here but hasn't paid attention and so knows absolutely nothing about small-town Missouri. Here's the truth: We small-towners love our school districts and support those districts as much as we can. We pay taxes, of course, and we go to games and cheer for the teams. We go to plays and concerts and enjoy the performances. We look forward to art exhibits. We go to chili suppers. When we see a car wash, we pull over and let the kids brighten up the car. That's a way of being part of the home town, and transplants who want to "fit in" will indeed fit in if they get involved with the education and development of our community's young people.

A Friday night football game really is a hometown experience. If you were at the game Friday night you saw Rolla go into the locker room at half-time, losing 28-14. Then you saw the Bulldogs come back fighting and end the game with a 42-35 victory over the Springfield Parkview Vikings. It's very satisfying to beat a big-city school.

The half-time show was quite artistic. I'm the kind of philistine who thinks halftime shows should feature the band spelling out words like "Go Bulldogs" and "Kill 'em" or forming a giant picture of a waving flag, but the Rolla Marching Bulldog Brigade's show combined music, marching and modern dance. Yes, the beginning of the show featured one of the flag girls doing a modern dance. (I'm all educated about modern dance, because I watch "So You Think You Can Dance" with my wife who loves that program and likes for me to watch it with her.) There were also seven giant curtains on rolling frames. It was quite avant garde. My cultural life is getting richer and richer.

Now Friday night has rolled around again. Rolla will play in Springfield at Kickapoo High School tonight. I'm not driving down to the city to watch, so I'll listen on the radio, read the paper Saturday morning and just wait for the next home game.

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