After the induction ceremony for the Thomasville/Thomas County Sports Hall of Fame last week came the predictably anonymous message left on the phone answering machine:

 “I feel sorry for anyone who thinks something like high school football is actually important.”

 Most of you have probably read similar stuff said right here in the Jerry Springer section of the newspaper — Rant and Rave.

 You know, I’ve heard more and more of that kind of thing the last few years around here. Seems we have an ever-increasing number of folks calling our area home who feel they are too upscale, too intellectually advanced, too cosmopolitan, too something to “stoop” to a level where something as “insignificant” as a high school sporting event matters to them.

 And you know what? That’s fine. Everybody has their thing. If supporting your local schools sports teams isn’t your cup of java, hey, no problem here. Go do what you do and have a great time doing it.

 But don’t come off thinking you are socially superior simply because you choose not to do so. I assure you, the rest of us won’t miss you one itty bitty bit.

 See, the thing someone like that coward who doesn’t have anything better to do with their time than call and leave anonymous messages on people’s answering machines doesn’t get is that there are a lot of us who simply enjoy supporting our kids, our schools and our community. Period. 

 Now, make no mistake — there are a lot of different ways to do that. Things like Friday night football games are just one of them.

 I’ve said this before and I mean it. In my eyes, our local stadiums serve as perhaps the purest sanctuaries our community has to offer. Think about it. It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got, what color your skin is, what kind of car you drive, what neighborhood you live in or who your mama and/or daddy is — in the local sports stadiums and gyms, all that matters is you have on the colors of your school and you are a welcome member of the congregation.

 Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could say those same things about our churches? But that’s another column for another week, so I won’t go there.

 Anyway, I grew up in a family that cared about little things like high school sports because they were a part of the fabric of our family. My grandfather played football at Thomasville High School back in the 1930s and his pride of being a part of that tradition was instilled in every one of us he had an influence on. He was proud of being a part of it, of it being a part of him and, as a result, the pride he felt for the place he called home was magnified as well.

 The fact that those folks who don’t get it never will feel the passion, the very soul of this community that is so prevalent in our stadiums every weekend during the fall honestly makes me feel sorry for them.

 As I shared with the folks at the Hall of Fame ceremony, the folks who are trying to convince the rest of us that we are the idiots in this equation are growing in number. They look at things like all of the playoff games that will be played by our schools this weekend and roll their eyes. If they could, they’d tell the rest of us that those games and things like the radio broadcasts of them really don’t matter, not in the “big picture,” and that we, not them, need to “get a life.” 

 Well, I want to send a challenge to those folks. I challenge them to get a letter from someone they care about, someone they’ve known for many years.  In it, the letter that says that someone is living in a tent halfway across the world as a soldier, and how they are so excited every week and can’t wait — can’t wait — to wake up at 3:30 in the morning on Friday to be able to find a computer, access the Internet and be able to listen to broadcast of the football games.

 Why would that matter so much, those who “don’t get it” might ask? Well, for that soldier, in their words, for three hours they have the opportunity to listen, close their eyes, and “be back home.”

 And believe it or not, there are a lot of people who live vicariously through their hometown teams. They are proud to support those kids and those schools, and are more prideful of the place they call home as result.

 Now, you tell me that isn’t important.

 There are a lot of ways to care about the place we all call home. Thank goodness all of us don’t do or enjoy the exact same things, or what a boring place this would be. Just like all of those other “things” out there that matter more to some, our local sports matter to quite a few of us, too.

 And regardless of what some might try to tell you, there’s nothing wrong with that.


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