I love football season. Emphasis on season. I'm fairly indifferent to football itself. I enjoy the game enough, preferring high school play where I know the players over college or professional, but I don't have a team (or care if you have a team) over which I would disown my son should he choose to attend school at its rival.
Football season, on the other hand, makes me smile. The energy throbbing through a stadium on a Friday night supersedes that of any other sporting venue. (This is a bold statement coming from a gal who would rather watch baseball or soccer over football any day.) This is because football season offers something for everyone. The savory smell of tailgating. The enthusiastic voice of the announcer. The peppy spirit of the cheerleaders. The brassy tones of the marching band (and the reverberating cadence of the drum line). The serious stance of the coaches. The admired athleticism of the team. The endless patchwork of team colors, wooing and booing in echoed support of the home team. These things, and more, make football season my favorite of them all.
Tonight we attended our first home game as Jefferson City Jays. I have been to more than a few season openers in my time as a teacher and I can safely say that I like the JC football tradition already. Not only did the Jays walk away with a win against the McCluer North Stars tonight, they also gained two new fans. You might assume that I have to be a fan given that I'm a teacher, but school spirit is not a contractual obligation. While supporting school programs builds rapport in the classroom, I would have become a Jays' fan tonight regardless of that. Here are the reasons why: Central Bank hosted a tailgate for the entire stadium--Stars included--prior to the game, completely free-of-charge. No catch. No soliciting. Just pure community and camaraderie; each person at the game received a t-shirt with "JC Football: A Family Tradition" on front and the season schedule on back. Each person. Not just the first 500 or just the JCPS faculty. Each person who entered the stadium. Additionally, the public relations manager for the school district, a person I have met several times since school started 20 days ago (and a person I never met in my previous district) announced the game's action from the press box. Usually this is the job of a former coach or a high school media personnel, but at JCHS, an employee in central office (a "higher up," if you will) announced. (And he did it better than that Mike Ditka character, in my opinion.)
So I'm a Jays' fan because of free stuff? No. Although I really like free stuff, that's not it. I'm a Jays' fan because of the emphasis on community at tonight's event. This team is called the Jefferson City Jays and they carry that name in representation of an entire town. And tonight the town came out to support their Jays in the band, on the sidelines, and on the field.
Tonight, I felt a little bit at home in this Missouri life.