High School football is a great experience. Most people only see the huge hits and violence displayed by young men on Friday nights. There is much more to high school football than what the fans see for those few hours on Friday. I played high school football, so I will tell you about what happens behind the scenes. Some of the things I talk about may not apply to all high school football teams, I am just telling you my experiences. For you to understand that high school football is more than a sport, I will give you a background on what happens throughout the year.
Most people do not know this, but the football season starts on January 1st each year. I know what you are thinking. You are asking how the season could start eight months before the first game. Well, football teams start their workouts right after New Year’s Day. The team gets together and talks about what they want to accomplish that year. You set goals, and then you set checkpoints to keep you on track to completing that goal. For most teams, the final goal is to win a State Championship at the end of the year. Checkpoints that lead up to that goal will probably include a victory in a tough game. After spending only about thirty minutes doing this as a team, the first workout begins. Usually, the team will do some core workout movements to get their bodies ready for the rest of the year. They will do some things like squats, benchpress, power cleans, deadlifts, push ups, pull ups, and situps, lifting only a small amount of weight. If you lift too much, you will not prepare yourself very well for the year, possibly opening up the chance of hurting yourself. That first workout usually makes each player so sore that they are unable to get out of bed the next morning. That is what takes place on the first day of the high school football season.
Players will lift weights throughout the entire year, including during the fall. Weightlifting is the only thing they do for the first half of the year. They lift weights four days a week. These brutal workouts bring together everyone on the team, forming close friendships through blood, sweat, and tears in the weightroom. These workouts last throughout the summer months. During the summer, teams go to camps to prepare for two a days practice. My school team went on a lot of camps over the summer. They went to places such as Troy University, Auburn University, and Western Kentucky University. These camps apply the strength gained up to this point to the game of football. The long, hot practices bring teams even closer. That is what leads up to the first official practice.
July 20th, about four weeks before school starts, is the first day of practice. This is when you realize that your summer is over and everything you have done up to this point was easy compared to what will be taking place for the next few weeks. Practice starts at two o’clock in the afternoon, just after the hottest part of the day. That practice lasts until seven o’clock. Then, you get a thirty minute break to eat a sandwich and drink water or gatorade. Then, from seven thirty until nine thirty, the second practice took place. That brutal practice schedule lasts five days a week until school starts. These practices are tough and focus on technique.
Once school starts, practice is moved back to three days a week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. These practices last from right after school until dark. Thursday is the day off to rest up for the Friday night game. These practices focus less on technique and more on game preparation. Weightlifting was moved to six thirty in the morning on Monday and Wednesday. Game film was watched Thursday morning and the team ate breakfast together on Friday morning. After a long ten week season, the long awaited playoffs begin. Each game could possibly be your last. Only the close teams will succeed. There are up to five games in the playoffs, the last one being the state championship game. The end of the season and all of the playoffs take place in October, November, and December, when the weather gets colder. From the intense heat of the beginning of the season to the frigid chill of the end of the year, practice continues until you lose in the playoffs, or win state.
Football players have no lives from the end of the summer until potentially, early December. Most people do not see this, they see the couple hours of fun on Friday nights. They call the football team “gay” for being so close, without understanding how or why this closeness has formed. All of the hours and hours of hard work, the blood, sweat, and tears, and the tough and unbearable practices form a brotherhood within the football team. Football players fight through these struggles together and become close friends. My fellow seniors in high school were very close to me. They were more than brothers to me. I could ask them to do anything for me and they would do it without question. That is why high school football is so special.
Now, to put down the ideas that football is only violence and anger. The intensity shown by football players appears to be soley violence or anger. That has nothing to do with it. Working as hard as you possibly could all year long, why would you not try your hardest in the game, when it really mattered. Football teaches character. When you are in a close game in the fourth quarter, your true character shows. Everyone can be a leader during warm ups. Not everyone can be a leader in the tough games in the fourth quarter, when pure exhaustion is setting in. Can you be a leader in that situation? This is a struggle that is defeated every day at practice and on every Friday night. Now, lets apply this to the real world. If you are a small bussiness owner who is on the verge of bankruptcy, what would you do. High School football teaches this character. It is easy to be happy and successful when things are going well, but how do you hold up when things aren’t going so well. High School football also forms life long friendships. Not only are these friends going to be there for you, but they will be the right friends as well. They will be friends with honesty, integrity, and true character. Football teaches you how to be a man. Coaches constantly lecture the importance of hard work, honesty, integrity, and confidence, on and off the field. These coaches hold high expectations for their players. This will set habits that will lead to success later in life. All of these things prove that football is more than a sport.
In conclusion, I think football is a great sport. Not only is it fun to play and entertaining to watch, but it teaches lessons that can be applied to life. Even more, high school football is a great thing that everyone should at least try. The shear brutality of the sport is not for everyone, but you don’t know if you will like it or not until you try. Football forms characters, friendships, and memories that last forever. These principles keep young men out of trouble in one of the most important learning stages of their lives. That is why High School football is more than just a sport.