Sunday, February 5, 2017

Curmudgeon Corner: Why I hate football.

This is not my high school band. This is the US Navy's
7th Fleet Band. I guarantee they sound much better than we did.
Wikipedia | Public Domain
I heard there's a game on TV tonight. The Superb Owl or something? I gather it's been going on for several years now. Anyway, I'm not watching it.

Why? Because I don't like football.

My dislike of the sport began early. You see, I grew up in Indiana, and as I've mentioned before, basketball is the big deal in the Hoosier State. My high school, Elston Senior High, routinely won the annual sectional tournament, and we even won the state basketball championship in 1966. But football? Not so much.

Our high school consisted of three grades -- 10th, 11th, and 12th. I played clarinet from 4th grade through my first year of college (Fun Fact!), and in high school, I was required to be in the marching band. Not every kid in the band was in pep band (which played at all the home basketball games) or jazz-rock band, but everybody marched. We had wool uniforms -- red coats and black slacks, if memory serves -- and a ridiculous, furry shako hat that was at least eighteen inches tall. We marched in one or two parades each year, but our main job was to perform at all our football home games: we played between quarters and did all the halftime shows. That playing-music-while-making-pictures-on-the-field thing? Been there, done that. And at the end of the game, we played the pep song if we won, or the alma mater if we lost.

Here's the thing about fall in Indiana in the '70s: It got cold at night. Sometimes it snowed. And cold and snow are not kind to wind instruments -- brass goes sharp and woodwinds go flat. I remember doing a halftime show on a field that had started out snow-covered before the players made a mudbath out of it during the first half. It was not fun.

Plus we were required to sit in the stands for every home game. Which would have been okay if our team was any good, but it wasn't. In the three years I attended high school, our varsity football team tied one game, and lost the rest. (We played the pep song at the end of that tied game; our band director declared it close enough to a win. Good thing, too, as we never got another chance.)

So I was already lacking any warm fuzzies for football, and then I went to Indiana University -- where once again, basketball was king and football was, um, not very good. Wikipedia says the Hoosiers football team went 2-8-1 my freshman year, 1-6-1 in the Big Ten. That same year in basketball? We were 32-0 and won the NCAA championship. You do the math.

The only saving grace for me was that I turned down the opportunity to be in the IU marching band.

After that, pro football held no charm for me. By the time I got to Washington, DC, the Redskins were long past their glory days. The only time I've been even mildly interested in football was in 1999, when I was attending paralegal school in Denver, and the Broncos won some big game. The Superb Owl, I think it was called.

So y'all enjoy your big game. It's just not my thing.

These moments of sports-minded blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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