Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Friday Night Lights

A few weeks ago, Marty and I attended a football game at St. Stephens, Marty's alma mater in Hickory, NC. I don't know what I was expecting - the pressure and prestige of Friday Night Lights. The passion and perseverance of Wildcats. Anthony Michael Hall in Johnny B. Goode. What I got instead was a bunch of band geeks and the sense that Hollywood has completely glamourized high school football.

Ok - so Friday Night Lights was based on a true story. But in general, movies about or featuring high school football - ranging from the cheer sex in Bring It On to Forest Whitaker's unstoppable linebacker in Fast Times at Ridgemont High - have a tendency to glamourize.

I grew up without football. That is I grew up in New York City. We didn't quite have room on the Upper West Side for 100 yards of green grass and bleachers. The big fall sport for us was soccer. And while Zinedine Zidane's headbutt and David Beckham's off field antics make for interesting press today, high school soccer isn't the same as high school football. At least - not as far as the movies are concerned.

But as far as real life is concerned, my first high school football experience was pretty disappointing.

Maybe it had to do with our players who seemed so small I couldn't imagine any of them going on to play in college (and I'm sure at least a few were seniors). Maybe it had to do with our seats, which were smack dab amidst the band families (the band members sat in the section directly to our left).

In general, the night seemed rather...low key. No rabid fans. No impassioned parents. No live or die moments. Just a regular old football game.

Of course, there were your typical stereotypes. Too cool for school boys who looked they were auditioning for an Abercrombie & Fitch ad. Disinterested girls standing around in cliques, sucking on blow pops. The band geeks who brought to mind every stereotype introduced with those famous words: "One time at band camp..."

But for the most part the night was more ordinary high school football than American Pie.

I don't know. I guess some times life in a small town is just life in a small town and not life in a small town as interpreted by Billy Bob Thornton.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...