From time to time, The Awl offers its space to normal, everyday people with a perspective on national issues. Today, we’re pleased to bring you this report by Tom Scocca, who at this time has some thoughts about high school football.
Hurry up and enjoy your rugged NFL action while you can, America! Also your willing soldiers and what’s left of your competent builders, hard-working truckers, and anyone else who applies guts and effort to get through adversity. The Washington Post brings a report from the high school football fields where the character of the next American generation is being molded-or rather, not molded, because who wants to play around in icky, squishy mud?
“People say football is a game that is supposed to be played in all conditions,” said Lake Braddock Coach Jim Poythress, who has been on every side of the discussion thus far this postseason as his team prepares for Saturday’s Division 6 title game against Thomas Dale of Richmond. “But in the NFL, fields drain, they’re not used by everybody and their brother and it’s covered. In high school, it becomes a big puddle, used by everybody.”
And so athletic officials snivel that it’s just not fair that the youth of Virginia should splash around in a puddle during the football playoffs. (The Post tries, unconvincingly, to drag neighboring Maryland into the story, but the real whiners are all below the Potomac.) So what if the weather in playoff season is naturally cold and wet and nasty? Why should teams play their games at home in front of their regular fans, on the natural surfaces where they’ve played all year, when a clean, artificial surface can be found somewhere?
The most pathetic voice in the story belongs to Jim Manchester, the sore-loser athletic director (athletic director?) of Massaponax, which lost 23-20 to Stone Bridge on a muddy field:
“That was inexcusable to let that game be played at the mud bowl,” said Massaponax athletic director Jim Manchester, who has tried contacting Virginia High School League officials to voice his complaints and try to change policies for next year. “I told them I would not ever play a game under this field condition. The field was just horrible, it should never have been played on.”
Manchester’s Massaponax team, the Post reports, “lost four fumbles” in the slop. That’s one way of saying it. Or you could say that Stone Bridge, playing in the same conditions, took it away four times-including on one play in which “a kick returner dropped the ball and was unable to locate it in the chocolaty mud.” Well, Stone Bridge didn’t have any trouble finding that ball, did it? But why talk about winners and what they did to win, when there’s a loser crying about being victimized?
Hey, Virginia: sometimes it rains! It rained on the Argonne. It rained on Okinawa. It rained on the Eagles and Rams in ’49. Stop yelping and hand off to the fullback, like football-playing Americans have been doing for more than a century. If your boys can’t handle being out in the weather, why stop at artificial turf? They still might get cold, right? Maybe Massaponax can play next season indoors, in Madden. With gloves, so they don’t chafe their fingers on the controller buttons.
Tom Scocca has had it up to here with you kids.