When I began this blog I made reference to High School Football in my world and indicated that I would get back to it at a later date. I needed time to do it justice since in Georgia football is king. For my non North American readers every town in the USA that has a high school reserves Friday nights in September through November for football even up in Alaska where they have to paint lines of the football fields on snow. Men, women, boys and girls living in California to Maine at the very least enjoy and even love football but for them there are any number of other things that could take their attention away from football. In Georgia and I am told to a bit lesser degree in other parts of the south football is King!
I had thought about writing this post weeks ago but I wanted to be sure that I treated the subject well. It needed to be just right because in Georgia you don’t mess with football.
On Fridays from August to November there is nothing more important than High School FOOTBALL. If the president ever comes to Georgia he had better not come to Georgia Friday nights in the fall as no one would know that he came. I am sure the Secret Service men and woman would be delighted when there is no one around to greet him or to heckle him. Heaven help him if he does come to Georgia on a Friday night to a High School Football game and delays the game in any way. There may not be an open revolt but to every fan on both side of the field he would be revolting. Folks in my world may not be the sharpest pencils in the box but if he ever did make that mistake come Election Day ballots cast would be for anyone but him.
The purpose of this post is to help readers who may be considering coming to a Georgia High School football game some fall Friday night in the future or simply just want to know why Georgia high school football fans are way more fanatical than any of the other football fans in any other part of the USA.
What makes football king in Georgia has less to do with what goes on in the football field than what goes on in the bleachers, in front of the concession stands, along the sidelines and in front of the restrooms in the football stadium. Now to be sure the game of football is pretty much played the same way all over the USA. Every Referee and umpire on the field has a book of rules that guarantees continuity of the game where ever the game is played. What goes on in the stands during the games are what makes Georgia Friday Night High School football unique.
To help those who did not grow up in Georgia understand the greatness of the experience that is a Friday night Georgia High School Football game one needs to talk to an expert. Coincidentally putting modesty aside I am one such expert. To prove that I am an expert my credentials are as follows: I am a High School teacher in Georgia for the last ten seasons and have worked in the ticket booth, selling tickets, pass gates and bleachers for more than forty games. Plus I am a Southerner come lately.
To fully appreciate the Georgia High School Football experience to understand why football is King in Georgia one must understand the following unwritten rules:
- It is considered bad form in Georgia to arrive at a game early* the term early refers to any time before a game begins until 30 minutes after it has begun.
- Tickets are sold until the last seconds of a game and Georgia High school football fans will pay even as they complain about paying just so they can say later on that they were at the game.
- It is good form to bring a huge bag of boiled peanuts with you to the game and to leave the empty wet slippery shells where ever people can most easily slip on them.
- It is not a High School football game without a marching band. They don’t have to play a note that has anything to do with the music they attempt to play just as long as they play. One of the two football teams doesn’t have to show up for the game but as long as at least one marching band shows up it’s still a football game. Even if both football teams play a game it’s not a football game without a marching band in the bleachers, it’s a scrimmage.
- Georgia High School football fanatics treat themselves very seriously. It is never a good idea to say anything remotely negative about their football team or give the impression of fixin to say anything negative about their football team. Saying anything negative or giving the impression of fixin to say anything negative about the other team is expected.
- All rules are meant for everyone else.
- (a) Knowing the score or even who is winning is not mandatory or even necessary for those attending a Georgia High School football game. (b) Even knowing a little bit of what is actually going on in a football game is also not necessary.
- Going to the concession stand and or restroom at least four times per quarter is a time-honored tradition.
- Yelling at the head coaches of either team and at every official is not only accepted it’s encouraged.
- Complaining is a minor sport to be involved in by everyone at a football game including football players, coaches and fans. Complaining as a sport is not just done at a Georgia High School football game and is in fact done at all other athletic events and school functions including graduations. The biggest difference is that complaining at a Georgia High School football game has become an art form. The creative complaining at a football game is always loud accompanied by a wide range of body language and facial expressions. If the words are not always clearly understood one can be thankful that they are not.
- Anytime a game is lost it’s blamed on the officials. If the loss is on the road a true Georgia High School football fan always blames home cooking* If the loss is at home it is blamed on the lack of home cooking.*
*For the Yankees from up north who might be reading this, home cooking has nothing to do with fine southern cooking. It refers to the decisions made by the officials making sure the game is played by the rules. If the officials are easier on the home team for rule violations than on the away team then it is assumed that the officials are supporting the home team or doing home cooking.
As I write this I am watching an exciting game. The score is tied 21-21. I am at the edge of my seat I cannot believe it I would never try to do what is being done right in front of me especially with all of those boiled peanut shells to slip on. He is carrying 2 drinks, a nacho, a hot dog with lots of ketchup and pickle. He’s running, oh no he slips and fumbles. The drinks have landed on the big man with a very pretty date, (that will be trouble by half time), his pickle flies in to the horn one of the band members is fixin to play (that pickle is going to make a real sour note at half time) the nachos cheese are all over his head and face and who knows where the hot dog is. Fans, band members even some football players are doubled over in laughter. Clearly this is a victory for the fans. There just is nothing better than a Friday night High School football game in Georgia where once again football is king.