Extra Points: Brian Spano 10/17
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
One thing that amazes me as I travel to different high school football venues week in and week out is how stands are almost always full.
And what drives the bugling attendance?
Well, for one, the success of the football program. Hey, if your team is playing well and has a chance to play for a state title, then the people will come.
I think the second driving factor is school spirit. Regardless of how successful that football program may be, students, parents, faculty, alumni and general fans in the neighboring area will take pride in the school and want to support it. Hey, I admit I still have a soft spot for my alma mater, Raytown South, but on the rare occasion that I draw them as an assignment, I do remain neutral.
Let’s be frank here. Another factor is it’s a relatively inexpensive and very family-friendly entertainment option. There’s something reassuring knowing where your kids are on a Friday night.
Finally, and here comes a shameless plug, the ever-increasing media coverage of high school football is quenching a thirst for information about how these student-athletes and teams perform each and every week.
So, with the confluence of all these factors, the popularity of the game is at an all-time high, and so is the passion from the stands.
I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly.
A few weeks ago, I was standing on the sideline before a game chatting with a referee who also officiates high school basketball. He told me that his preference was to be on the football field because he’s so much farther from the fans and can’t hear the screaming, the yelling and worse, the taunts.
I’ve heard it too, not at me of course, and it’s never pleasant, but people can be so blinded by their passion for their school that it gets in the way of what true high school sportsmanship is all about.
Now, I don’t want to dwell on just the negative.
During the first two weeks of the season, I saw two pretty heinous injuries that involved broken bones and delayed each game for a considerable amount of time. One player was from the visiting team, the other was on the home team, and both required ambulance assistance.
I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see fans from both sides give a warm ovation when the injured player is escorted off the field. To me, that is the ultimate sign of good sportsmanship and just plain respect from the fans.
For the most part, high school football fans do a great job in supporting their team and representing their school. But all of their energy should be directed at just that, supporting their team.
Let the officials officiate, let the coaches coach, and let the players play.
All you have to do is cheer your lungs out every week for your team and your school.
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