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Welcome to the Big League


Oh my goodness, I cringed at the loud, strong words from a couple of fans at the Pagosa Springs football game on a Friday night.

I was sitting among friends, mothers and grandmothers. They also winced. I wanted to protect my friends from those harsh words.

The ones who were giving their strong opinions are also my friends. One has played for the LA Rams and he knows what he’s talking about. He understands harsh words from the fans, calling the referees “zebras” and such. He also knows about players giving up and laying down. He’s played in the Big League. He knows the game. He knows the pressure.

I‘m not sure if our little town is ready for the Big League.

The fathers of the players have stronger shells; stout words seemed to roll off their backs. It’s Friday night lights and entertainment in our little town. We have something to talk about all week. We brag on our kids. That’s small town football at its best.

There was drama going on in the stands behind me on my right. A lady yelled over and over, “Get some attitude.” Then she yelled, “Let the clock run down.”

My friend, the Big League football player, yelled at her, “We don’t want the clock to run down. You don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s the other team’s fourth down, we need to get the ball back. We have two minutes before the end of the game. We need three points.”

I was thinking, “He’s right, but I’m not going to get into that debate. It would be like breaking up a dogfight.”

I told myself just lay low.

If you’ve ever been to a Bayfield game you know how those fans yell during the whole game. They get louder and louder. They have team spirit. Our fans don’t seem to think they need to do that.

I asked my grandson if he hears me on the field.

He said, “Yes.”

If that’s so, I’ve got to encourage him and his friends. They need to know we are with them.

My son-in-law hollered, “Come on fans, start rooting for the boys.”

I wanted to yell at the cheerleaders, “Get into the game. You’re not window dressing. You don’t set up a cheer thirty seconds before the end of the game.”

When we made a touchdown, our son-in-law loudly reminded the cheerleaders, “Sing the school song. It’s tradition. Get the crowd on their feet.”

One fan yelled, “Do we have a song?”

My daughter started singing it. We had a lot of action on the field, but in the stands we had even more.

Throughout the game, the fever mounted. Everyone was getting yelled at — the referees, the players, the coaches, the fans and the cheerleaders.

Is this the Big League in our little Golden Peaks Stadium, with our high school boys?

We act like it.

We have to keep everything in perspective. Our boys played their hearts out. They lost by three points, and there were a few calls the referees missed, which could have given us a win.

I was beaming with pride with how our boys were doing. They did their best. Some of our boys played the whole game, both on the offense and defense, without a rest. I was amazed how fit they were. They had been practicing on the field all summer, even without coaches. They have been working out in the gym, and at the end of the game they were still fighting. They didn’t lose their steam.

They walked off the field with their shoulders back and holding their heads high. They were smiling. The week before, they were defeated. They had been whipped in their first official game. Now, they were thinking about the after-game dance.

They played as a team and they knew they did their very best.

Some of the boys will never play football again after they graduate. To them, it’s a high school sport and they had fun. But, for some of the boys, they are preparing their videos for the scouts and are planning to go to college on a football scholarship.

For my own Sweetie Pie — the big guy wearing No. 72, and one of the co-captions and a senior — he knows he’s got to play hard. His goal is to play college football and become a college football coach. He’s got to learn to take hard words and hard hits.

After the game, it’s the mothers’ and grandmothers’ place to bind up their wounds, look at the videos with them, brag on them, make them feel like their little boys. But, during the game, it’s about building men. It’s hard on mothers to have their boys ruffed up, overlooked, and yelled at. But, it’s all part of the game.

Final brushstroke: I came home with a knot in my stomach. In the college leagues and the Big League it’s not all sweet and positive like some would like it to be. I better grow some thicker skin. I don’t think it’s going to be a pretty sight.


“It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.” — Vince Lombardi

Readers’ comments

I know you all have your opinions about football on Friday night at Golden Peaks Stadium. Send your comments to betty@bettyslade.com.

This story was posted on September 26, 2013.