With the leaves changing and a chill dancing across your face, what is your quintessential autumn activity?
Is it donning your sweaters and scarves for the first time? Raking a pile of brightly colored leaves? Perhaps it is heading to your local pumpkin patch to pick out this year’s front porch guest of honor.
Growing up in the midwest gave me a deep appreciation and love of the cyclical nature of the seasons and the changing tides as we entered a new phase of the year. Autumn struck me as such a cozy season, a time to relax and savor the last hints of summer before our harsh, glorious northern Michigan winters came to call.
Football Season (The High School Version)
Each year, autumn rings in another season that I have come to love… football season!
Now, I’m not much for sports on TV. Sure, I’ll watch the Super Bowl, maybe a few college bowl games and a rivalry or two if I’m invited to a friend’s house… but I don’t “waste” my Sunday afternoons (and Monday nights AND Thursday nights in front of a TV set).
Instead, I make my way to a few high school football games each year.
A Family Affair
If you are looking for my dad on a Friday night in September and October, your best bet is to check out where the local teams are playing and head over. He’ll be there, with his windbreaker and ballcap cheering on our boys.
As a result of my dad’s love for the local sport, some of my fondest childhood memories include high school football games. From an early age, he would bundle me up and head to the gridiron where we would sip our hot chocolate as he explained the game.
We were dedicated, some years catching a game almost every Friday night. I even remember shuffling to a game in a full snowsuit on a late October Friday as an early squall dumped several inches of snow on us throughout the game!
Friday Night Lights
Now, you may be wondering,
“Why high school ball? Wouldn’t watching better players from the comfort of your home be more enjoyable?”
I know I do not speak for everyone but to me, there is something special about the Friday Night Lights.
The boys on the field are often talented young men out for glory and looking to bring home a win for their high school. The crowds are loud and enthusiastic, shaking the stadiums with their stomping and cheering as the announcers shoot the breeze in between plays. Halftime brings a show from the marching band and I am constantly impressed by the choreography and music… those kids are rockin’!
I guess what I am getting at is that it is real. When you are at a Friday Night Football game, you are there. You smell the grass, you feel the chill in the air, and you hear the roar of the crowd, the band and the crash of the helmets and pads. It is an exciting, vitalizing experience.
The Patriot Game
Last Friday, Mr. Adventure Rich and I took AR Jr. to the 6th Annual Traverse City Patriot Game. This is our second year attending and I hope to make it a family tradition.
On the surface, the Patriot Game is a cross-town rivalry pitting the two big high school football teams against each other early in the season.
But the Patriot Game is much more than that. Each year, the game takes place on the weekend closest to September 11th. The schools invite local members of the military, veterans, police, firefighters and first responders to attend the game as honored guests.
The guests are treated to a tailgate picnic and recognized prior to the game with a ceremony in which each and every high school football player shakes the hand and thanks the honored military members, veterans and first responders. In addition, the teams commemorate a veteran or first responder who has died in the line of duty, honoring their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their family.
Halftime gets me every year. The two high school bands, along with a local bagpipe crew, perform “Amazing Grace”. I’ll admit, I was fighting back tears.
Adventure Challenge: Friday Night Lights
After attending the game last Friday, I realized what an enjoyable evening it had been. Now, I know this was a particularly special game, but most Friday night football games contain at least a little patriotism, pride and community. It is a fun family activity that takes little preparation and can lead to amazing memories.
With that, I’ve decided that our next Adventure Challenge is as follows… I challenge you to find a game and go bask in the Friday Night Lights!
Games around here cost between $5-$7 for non-playoff games with discounts for kids. I find the cost well worth the evening of excitement.
Don’t have a “home team”?
Don’t worry! There are no rules that say you have to know the school or have any connection to the team to attend.
Need an Excuse?
Dinner. Football games often come with a concession stand serving up hot dogs, chili, hot cocoa, candy, popcorn and other items for your enjoyment.
Some of my favorite games growing up were games we “stumbled upon” (randomly stopped at on road trips because it was dinner time and they had hot dogs…). We would get our hot dogs, sit in the stands and ask the people next to us who we were rooting for!
Do I need anything?
Check the weather in advance. Depending on your location, Fridays in the fall can get very chilly once the sun goes down so dress appropriately.
Mrs. Adventure Rich takes no responsibility for any actions including (but not limited to) excessive cheering resulting in a hoarse voice, loss of vocal ability, Friday Night Lights syndrome or loss of interest in College/Pro Football.
Anyone else a fan of Friday Night Lights? Or anyone out there who has never been to a high school football game (and just might give it a try 🙂 )?
Always an Adventure,
Mrs. Adventure Rich