Football is so prevalent in our society, especially when we celebrate the yearly climax at the Super Bowl. The first game I attended was at my home town high school, and it somehow became wedged in my brain, even though I was only five years old. I remember standing near the top of the stadium behind large men in top coats on that frosty evening, trying to understand why people came to the event. I asked my mother about this as cigar smoke stung my eyes and filled my nostrils. I don’t think I received an answer, so I struggled to make sense of everything going on around me.
Because of the wall of coats, I couldn’t actually watch the action, but I knew my cousin, Billy, was number twenty-two. (Probably the reason we were there, along with the fact that my sister was a majorette.) As the competition heated up, I knew something significant happened, because everyone around me started screaming, and I heard the number twenty-two mentioned on the speaker. They were talking about my cousin.
A man directly in front of me yelled toward the field, “You hot dog! You hot dog!”
Incensed, I said to my mother, “That man called Billy a hot dog!”
“Be quiet,” she said in a low voice.
I didn’t know why I should be quiet. He was the one causing problems.
I don’t think I ever forgave that person for calling my cousin a hot dog, but I learned to enjoy football games to a degree, especially when I was in high school and had a real interest in whether or not Easley won. I went with my friends, and we ran into others I knew, and even though I wasn’t always sure what was going on (except when a player ran for a touchdown or kicked a field goal), I enjoyed the experience when the weather wasn’t too cold.
My junior year was especially fun, since we had a running back nicknamed “Roadrunner” who scored with ease. He helped us make it to the South Carolina State Championship game that year, and we actually won! Stanley Morgan was such a great player, I wasn’t surprised when he started playing professionally.
I have to admit my passion for football has faded since my high school days, although I try to tolerate the sport when my husband watches occasionally. I think it would be more palatable for me if they still showed marching bands and majorettes during half- time. That’s the only portion I liked when we were at my grandmother’s house during the holidays and a game was on. And now that I think of it, we were exposed to all those games at her house mostly because of Billy.