Texas high school football has a unique atmosphere not rivaled by any other sport. As fans fill the stands on Friday nights waiting for their team to emerge from the locker room, there’s a feeling in the air like no other. For a few short hours, people forget what’s going on in the world and come together to rally around their team.
Political views, social issues and differences of opinion are left in the parking lot as people unite as one under the Friday night lights.
The pageantry of the game is enough to send chills down your spine. Whether the team runs through an elaborate tunnel or the traditional sign painted by the cheerleaders, fans are immediately filled with a sense of pride when they see their team take the field.
The captains meeting in the middle of the field, the band playing, the cheerleaders cheering and the fans on their feet are just the beginning of a ritual that is revered by an entire state. Texas high school football is not just a game, it’s a religion.
You can almost hear the pounding of the players hearts as they face the flag and listen to the National Anthem. They stand in honor of those who fought so they can stand where they are at that very moment. They stand for the country, their community, their school, their coaches and for one another.
From the minute of the opening kickoff, the atmosphere intensifies and a team of young men battle on the field for bragging rights, honor, and victory. For a brief time in their lives, they are heroes. They are looked up to by little boys in the stands, admired by the community and loved by their family. Their fathers stand with chests swollen with pride among the other fathers, watching their every move on the field. Their mothers don their photo buttons on their shirt while praying they don’t get hurt, but jumping up to yell, “That’s my boy!” throughout the game.
For some, the season will end in December as they hoist a State Championship trophy over their heads. For some, the season will end much sooner than they’d like. Class reunions will consist of talking about that one game, that one play, that one touchdown or that one season. Most likely, the stories will become a bit more embellished over the years, but those memories will stay with them for a lifetime.
When they reflect on their time as a Texas high school football player, they will remember the community they played for. They will remember the sights, the sounds and the roar of the crowd. They will remember the pep rallies, the town covered in streamers and signs, and the little boys who gave them a “high five” after the game. As they become the spectator, they will get chills when they hear their fight song. They will watch as the little boys who once worshiped them are now on the field. They will think about their teammates who gave more meaning to the game and they will forever remember what it felt like to be a “Boy of Fall” under the Texas Friday night lights.